A free community led project using art as a form of self-expression, helping others find meanings, and to have fun with whatever art supplies you have at home.
Community Led Event: Art: A Self-Expression
Community members from Sydney banded together to create a free art and mindfulness event for people at home during Covid lockdown. We probed the event organisers about their experiences of running their own project as a result of running and attending a Pizza Night.
Creating the community group project was a challenge for all the group members as we came up with different ideas for the project. Finally, we decided to do the online art event considering the current situation of COVID-19. We named our event “Art: A Self Expression”. The purpose of the event was to provide our community members with the opportunity to connect through art, using art as a therapeutic tool to de-stress and express feelings and to raise self-awareness. Participants had to choose to draw or paint something related to the themes give which were, nature or environment, favourite cartoon, movie or TV show character or the biggest achievement in life. The event was 1 hour 15 minutes long where we spent 5 minutes in a brief introduction of the event and instructions, 40 minutes creating our artwork and the rest of the 30 minutes sharing stories behind the artworks. We focused on creating meanings out of the artworks rather than focusing on the results.
What were the reasons behind creating the event?
Creating art has a different meaning for everyone. For some, it means to express themselves or reflecting upon themselves. Most of us when we were a child, we enjoyed drawing and painting. However, unless we have a keen interest in art it is unlikely that we have continued to draw or paint today. So, the purpose of creating this event was to get our hands on colourful paints and pencils and create meaning through drawing or painting rather than focusing on the result. The best part is community members do not need to be artists or trained professionals to participate in this event because real artists are inside everyone.
We understand that the pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health from being isolated to completely losing a physical interaction with each other. We are so busy in our life that we forget to take time off for self-care. So, to shift our emotions to something interesting while benefiting our mental health was the main reason, we decided to create this event.
What were the outcomes of the event?
As organisers, nothing feels better than seeing the participants’ beaming smiles after the morning event. It was a breath of fresh air, a time to pause, before going back to the day’s plans and activities.
Participants had the chance to create beautiful artworks based on the themes given through drawing or painting with relaxing music in the background. Meaningful conversations and social connections happened while participants were sharing the stories behind their artworks.
We are glad for the positive feedback we received during and after the event. When participants were asked about what they find helpful during the event, one participant said, “It was very relaxing and light-hearted. It was pleasant getting to know one another, seeing people as individuals, and their story behind some of their doodles” and another one answered, “Being able to reflect, share my thoughts, hear other’s experiences and give some time for myself and drawing, which I enjoy doing”. In terms of the overall feedback for the event, one participant answered, “It doesn’t require too much of you (do/listen to this and that). Which lightened the whole event and efficiently served its purpose”. Another participant said that “It was very pleasant, interesting and relaxing. It is a nice start to the day. The event is not very long, which is good because it is self-contained”.
It is for these feedbacks that we believe even simple projects like this would benefit people and the community.
Do you encourage others to create community-led projects?
Definitely! There are many benefits of creating community-led projects in society be it creating networks among people, be it breaking stereotypes, be it improving one’s well-being and so on. However, it is important to have the right information, clear objectives and the awareness of the social issues that’s happening in our society while keeping an open mind. Creating a community-led project by ourselves gives us an opportunity to explore the chances of engagement of community members for our benefits and lead us to understand our own needs during the process. Creating community-led projects would let us check the efficacy of it and encourage us to do better next time. It is through these community-led projects that we can find our strengths not only individually but as a community. A community that can stand by itself by addressing challenges and social issues as one. Alone could be good but together we can create greatness. Seems idealistic but hey, we will never know until we try.
We are looking to continue this program in the near future, so please stay tuned!
With permission, below are some artworks and drawings created by community atendees
Event creators/ organisers
Past Event details
Date: 27th August