ARTreach artists extraordinary talent
ARTreach artists last week showcased their extraordinary talent at an exhibition in the Old Boys’ school in Fremantle.
ARTreach is an initiative, founded by St. Pat’s and the Local Dug Action Group, to build relationships with people who congregate in Fremantle’s parks and public spaces.
Some people have mental health issues; some are dealing with substance misuse; some are experiencing homelessness and some are at risk of homelessness.
St Pat’s Aboriginal Health Practitioner and Outreach Worker Hayley Nelson said the initiative helped people at the “pointy” end of homelessness.
“We want to make sure people are safe when they are sleeping rough,” Ms Nelson said.
“We also want to help people get into services, including rehabilitation services.
“When people are painting outside they feel more comfortable speaking to us - they are more relaxed.
“It is less intimidating for them and we are able to see if they might need any medical help.”
Yamatji man Danny Dickerson, who has been living in Fremantle for 35 years, was one of the three artists Shelter WA spoke to at the exhibition.
Mr Dickerson said the program had helped him enormously.
“I was having a hard time…I was homeless…my life was out of my hands,” Mr Dickerson said.
“I had to force myself to join the group, but I am glad I did.
“The art work takes my mind away from anguish and I am creating something nice. They got me painting again.”
Louise Todman, who sings in the St Patrick’s Street Choir (the Starlight Hotel Choir) agrees with Mr Dickerson about how practising art is therapeutic.
“The art brought me out of my shell,” Ms Todman said.
“It helps me stop thinking about things that really worry me – like my mum’s health.”
Malcolm Hill now has a home, but was first introduced to ARTreach by outreach workers when he slept at the back of Clancy’s in Fremantle.
“I find painting quite helpful, so I encouraged others to join in,” Mr Hill said.
“Participating made me feel relaxed…there’s no stress…it is quite helpful.
Mr Hill produces up to 12 pieces of art a day and said his photographic memory helps him.
The artwork is for sale with all proceeds going directly to the artists.
The exhibition was held on Thursday, March 1 at the Old Boys’ School in Fremantle.
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