Artists put their creativity in the frame

For artists experiencing mental illness and addiction, creating art can be more of a challenge than a triumph.

But a Dunedin art studio is hoping to change that.

More than 70 works from 43 different artists were showcased at Artsenta’s "Just Us" exhibition in the Otago Art Society rooms at the Dunedin Railway Station yesterday.

Artsenta is a nearly 40-year-old art studio and wellbeing space for people who access mental health and addiction services.

Deputy director Dee O’Malley said the event was about showcasing their members’ creativity and who they were as a group.

Dunedin artist Edward Genet showcases his work 'The Blue Half Sky' at Artsenta’s "Just Us"...
Dunedin artist Edward Genet showcases his work 'The Blue Half Sky' at Artsenta’s "Just Us" exhibition held at the Otago Art Society in Dunedin’s Railway Station. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The individuals who went to Artsenta could be experiencing a lot of isolation and anxiety and their studio was an emotionally and physically safe environment of understanding people where they could express themselves, she said.

"Some people might be showing their work for the very first time in public, but because they’re with the group it’s not so scary."

She hoped the event would show attendees that Artsenta’s creativity was up there with that of everybody else.

About two-thirds of the group were using the exhibition to sell their work and two pieces had even been sold to people in Hong Kong, she said.

Dunedin artist Edward Genet said his work, The Blue Half Sky, depicted a goldfinch being set free from a hand, as an image of the Virgin Mary appears in the clouds.

It was inspired by the artist Raphael and the crucifixion of Jesus, he said.

The acrylic painting featured an accompanying poem which Mr Genet wrote himself and had earlier recited.

He said it was "fantastic" to have his artwork displayed to the public.

"That’s what it’s for, for everyone to see.

"It inspires hope and that’s what I want to do with the art, give hope."

The exhibition runs until Friday.