Eighteen months prior to the official opening of ‘The Re-Authoring Impulse’ exhibition, I was kindly offered a place in the Epicormia Collective from the group’s co-ordinator, artist Paul Andrew. I initially had reservations of joining due to prior commitments with the upcoming ten-year anniversary of hosting Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) survivor Art Workshops at my own Willowbank Studio.
I already knew two of the other artists in the Collective (Julianne Zoviar Clune and Julie Barratt) however, Paul, Jeremy Hawkes and Marion Conrow were not previously known to me. It later proved to me how beneficial a group of like-minded artists sharing the same ‘diff’Abilities could work together for a common goal.
The ten-year celebration of ABI survivor workshops at Willowbank Studio was originally planned to be exhibited in August 2016 at a Lismore art space to coincide with ‘National Brain Injury Awareness Week’. However tight time constraints were going to make completion of works for that exhibition, extremely difficult to achieve.
With such adequate lead in time time to prepare, I decided I could take on both projects at the same time, even capitalising on the situation by consultation/agreement with other artists in the Epicormia Collective to have the ‘Decade of Catharsis’ exhibition shown alongside ‘The Re-Authoring Impulse’ at the Ballina Northern Rivers Community Gallery. This made perfect sense, seeing as how every artist exhibiting in both projects has experience with an ABI.
The timing of the combined exhibition also now coincided with ‘International Day of People with A Disability’ allowing further opportunities to publicise the events through previously established media connections.
The eighteen month ‘lead in’ till exhibition also allowed time to tackle as well as document my withdrawal from a thirteen-and-a-half-year dependence on opiate painkillers. Medications prescribed for orthopeadic injuries following a traumatic motorcycle accident back in 2002. Many hours were spent working in the studio through the night as I uncomfortably detoxed. Culminating in not only artworks that has authentic significance, but work I am proud to have produced.
Usually, my arts practice is restricted by cost. Allocation of $7000 funding for materials purchase allowed freedom to pursue each artistic goal without too much restriction, enabling me to interpret concepts to maximum potential. Working alongside the other artists in our collective has been an extremely rewarding experience. An ABI is an extremely complex condition and it has proved highly beneficial to work on a project with those that understand what difficulties are faced as the result of such trauma.
Thanks to Arts NSW, thanks to Accessible Arts, thanks to artists Julianne Zoviar Clunne, Julie Barratt, Jeremy Hawkes, Marion Conrow and Paul Andrew.
The project has further encouraged me to continue my arts practice and openly welcome the availability of my studio and resources, to all artists that I have met and worked with along the way.