5th May 2018

Art Therapy Studio
Happy 6th birthday in Toodyay!

Despina WestonThe Toodyay Art Therapy Studio celebrated its 1st year anniversary with an Open Day on 5th May. There were works on display by adults and children (current and past participants). The Studio is located at 104 Stirling Terrace where Art Therapy and counselling services are available to individuals, couples, families and groups.

Art-making at the Art Therapy Studio is a ‘Wellness Practice’ - a Wellness Practice in community is an inclusive practice where all are welcome. Overcoming the self-limiting thought ‘but I can’t draw’, is the greatest challenge.  Since Creativity is not the exclusive domain of artists and belongs to everyone, art materials were available to anyone who wanted to ‘have a go’ and create. Making art is a replenishing, invigorating, and health-giving process-it is a wellness practice!

The objective for Art Therapy at The Studio is to create a safe space where people can connect with themselves and be inspired. For those not familiar with studio spaces, it may help to visualise a place where you have experienced feeling ‘at one’ with the world - perhaps in a shed, a garden, or a place in nature - environments that help to quieten internal dialogues and help to release us from the tyranny of external demands on our time and energy. Such environments are by their nature healing. Studies have found that paying attention to our inner-life and engaging in creative pursuits lowers blood pressure and heart rates and imbues us with those ‘feel-good’ hormones. The reader might be thinking, ‘well, I have a shed, I love my garden and nature-how is this different?

Toodyay Studio with Despina near door
(left - Despina in front of The Art Therapy Studio at 104 Stirling Terrace)

How does Art Therapy differ?
The point of difference between engaging in creativity at large and engaging creatively within the context of Art Therapy is that Art therapy is delivered by a trained and qualified professional. The job of the art therapist is to set appropriate tasks for the development of the person, whether it is applied through individual consultation or group work, and through the building of a relationship of trust between the person and the art-therapist. The studio space becomes the holding environment where ‘lovers of life’ and ‘would-be lovers of life’ learn to enjoy, share and create. Participants also learn to problem-solve, to accept, to grieve, to rejoice, to change what is not acceptable, and to grow in esteem as well as in personal creativity.

Many participants have used art therapy as a spring-board to overcome self-limiting beliefs and to achieve sustaining and rewarding personal and professional lives. Some have developed careers, or used their new-found skills to enhance the quality of their relationships. Others have discovered hidden talents. Tim’s Tattoo drawings, Geoff and Michelle’s story-telling and authoring of books, and Clare’s creative bags – these and many other works by ‘lovers of life’ will be on display. The works explore concepts of life, loss, fear, despair – have we loved or been loved enough? Given too much or not enough of ourselves to another, or to a cause? Many losses and transitions are given expression at the studio through the use of a wide range of art materials. Whether it is learning a new hobby, maintaining important relationships, making something of ourselves, or acceptance of losses such as our mental or physical health, the loss of a relationship or the death of a loved one, or leaving a country of origin or a job.

Art Therapy is a complementary therapy. It brings another dimension to the ways we work with people by recognising an individual’s creativity in the progression towards healthier lifestyles and by de-stigmatising.

Tattoo Artist shows his Designs at the Art Therapy Studio
Tim - one of our artists“Art is my main passion in life – it has been my focus for the past 8 years. I am strongly influenced by the creative and sometimes darker ideas of Tattoo. The intent is to make designs that not only look good on paper but on skin as well. I mostly use water colour or coloured pencil. I like the technical-free aspect of water-based paint but I also enjoy the control I get from coloured pencils.

Art-making has helped me to overcome internal struggles and directed a path and focus in life. It allows me to express myself whilst showing the real person behind the art. I believe art is a valuable asset for anyone. The phrase ‘I can’t draw’ is only a mental stumbling block. Anyone can draw and with practice can only get better. The therapeutic benefit is what makes art so attractive, useful and beneficial to me”.                        
(left: Tim with some of his Tattoo drawings)


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