Welcome to Creative Connections Art and Poetry Exhibition 2013.
It’s great to be here at Vic Park Centre for the Arts, which was created by the community for the community. I made my first friends here as a freshly arrived migrant in 2001 with no family or community to call my own. The people I met here, as a volunteer and later committee member, encouraged me to make my first steps in becoming an artist after 15 years of corporate work, and a sense of disconnection because I has been living and working overseas since I left Belgium in my early twenties. This place helped me create a home through community and re-discovering other layers of identity and self. I know it does this for many others.
Through the years I found that there is an Australianness in community arts, to genuinely ‘have a go’ at arts and to share this experience with others. I learnt that Creative Connections started in 2005 when the parent of a child with disability, Maureen Sexton, who is a poet, met with a disability worker at the Spring Poetry Festival and was impressed with the spirit of community in the poetry community (something I can personally, as a poet, also vauch for). Since then, many others have come on board. Creative Connections is now an established annual event on the Perth calendar.
Its concept was to bring together people with high needs who have trouble accessing the usual avenues for art, and poets, whereby poets respond to the artwork created.
In the art worls the process is also known as ‘ekphrasis.’. The term comes from the Greek ‘ek’ which means ‘out, from’ and ‘phrasis’, words, rhetorics. Ekphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its so-called illuminative liveliness.
A descriptive work of prose or poetry, a film, or even a photograph is used to highlight through its ”rhetorical” vividness what is happening, or what is shown in visual arts, and in doing so, possibly enhance the original art and so take on a life of its own through its description.
In Creative connections, the poetry is “telling the story of” the painting, and so becoming a storyteller, as well as a story (work of art) itself. Virtually any type of [[artistic media|artistic medium]] may be the actor of, or subject of ekphrasis. The choice of poetry here is interesting, as the 10 line limit works visually and gives the poet a challenge, a confinement to work with. As a poet and artist involved in this since last year I have found this process more inspiring than limiting.
One may not be able to make an accurate sculpture of a book to retell the story in an authentic way. One thing that helps is some other bits of information about the background of the maker, and what he or she likes. This gives the poet some direction, however it is only there if you like to work with it.
It’s the spirit of the poem that we are more concerned about in ekphrasis. This is conveyed by any form of poem and thereby enhances the artistic impact of the original through synergy.
In looking at this exhibition this way, I searched for the poems to portray the spirit the picture, and I invite you to do the same. Look and find that incredible synergy, evidenced especially where different poets pick up on the same nonverbal story.
What is added is even more interesting, each artist and poet bringing their own story to the fore. This is where in my view the true connection lies. Creating community by revealing some of self and connecting through spirit.
The artists have created vivid, colourful pictures to express an outer or inner world, or the space inbetween, of self. They have made bold choices depending on interest and ability. The work ranges from raw, random brush strokes to deliberate compositions making full use of colour, shape and medium.
I listened to a panel discussion yesterday by Access Australia at the Sydney Writers Festival and remember these quotes by some of the pannelists, all disabled writers, commenting on being identified through their disability rather than ability. Those who have Aspergers and people with poor or no eyesight are thrown onto one heap and commented on as disabled. ‘We are all very different, yet what we do have in common is some distance being removed from ‘normal’.’ Accepting therefore that there is a place for art made by people with disabilities without losing the individual in the process. We’re encourage by another statement: “Let their be good art and bad art, let there be lots of expression because this will bring about the brilliant too. It’s about access.”
And here we are back to Creative Connections. Look at the diversity of art work, the heart and soul, the effort in the face of adversity, this is a truly remarkable exhibition, a record for the future. 42 poets and 54 artists, nearly 100 people have created original artwork, available here today.
I commend The Disability Services Commision, Centre for Cerebral Palsy, Nulsen Haven and Bethanie for supporting the artists in their artistic endeavours. I commend the artists. I thank the poets. In particular I wish to thank Gary De Piazzi, Val Neubecker and the team of volunteers who have put together this year’s anthology and exhibition.
As I formally launch this exhibition, I would like to invite all those who are present to buy a work of art, or a few copies of the anthology as an original and warmhearted Xmas gift. The one big message that we all take home is one of lust for life, and that it’s okay to be different – an appropriate wish to share in these fragile times.
Tineke Van der Eecken
27 October 2013