Regional Arts Victoria – “Creative Conversations and Post-Traumatic Growth” Blog Story by Karen Robinson

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!

No. 1 of 2 Creative Conversations with Regional Arts Victoria - Attendee at the Event - Karen Robinson - Abstract Artist 10th July 2015.JPG

No. 1 of 2 Creative Conversations with Regional Arts Victoria – Attendee at the Event – Karen Robinson – Abstract Artist 10th July 2015.JPG



On Friday 10th and Saturday 11th July 2015, Regional Arts Victoria brought together artists, cultural and community groups, and services providers together in an event titled “Creative Conversations“.  It was held within a regional township called Wallan, Victoria – Australia and at their local multipurpose centre.  The purpose of this event was to have all parties share their understanding and experiences, in relation to creative practices, that are helpful within communities recovering from the impact of natural disasters.  It covered how art and art therapists, can assist in the development of “Post-Traumatic Growth” through specifically considered programs and approaches, that can positively help trauma affected individuals, groups and communities.  Greater insights into “Post-Traumatic Growth” gave the audience a clearer understanding about how “art for therapy” can be transformative; how it can improve an individual’s and/or a community’s sense of wellbeing after a traumatic experience.



I was fortunately able to attend all of the first day’s and most of the second day’s events.  Below outlines the structure of the days’ events which is inclusive of the name of each speaker and the subject matter they covered during their presentation (RAV 2015).  Also I have included some lovely photos I was able to take over the two days!


Day One – Friday 10th July 2015 (RAV 2015)




  • Creative Recovery and the Creative Recovery Network:  An introduction to a growing network of artists and cultural and community workers taking the lead in helping their communities recover from the impact of natural disasters through creativity.  Greg Ireton, Disaster Recovery Advisor & Chair, Creative Recovery Network.
  • NB: 

    Click to access Creative%20Recovery%20Network%20-%20FAQ.pdf



  • The Regional Arts Fund  An overview of funding available to regional artists.  Amanda Gibson, Creative Arts Recovery Facilitator, Regional Arts Victoria


  • Art Therapy:  Embracing the variety of roles art can play in health care with individuals, groups and communities.  Dr. Patricia Fenner, Course Co-ordinator & Libby Byrne, Associate Lecturer, Master of Art therapy Program, LaTrobe University



  • Three Art Pieces:  Three remarkable creative projects that emerged following the 2009 Black Saturday fires.  The artists will share the processes they used to engage traumatised communities and create meaningful artistic work
    • Kyneton Mosaic:  A mosaic mural made from personal treasures.  Kathryn Portelli, Mosaic Artist


    • The Blacksmiths’ Tree:  A 10m high forged steel gumtree created by a collaboration of blacksmiths from 23 countries and local supporters.  Amanda Gibson, Project Manager, Australian Blacksmiths Association (Victoria)


    • Into the Light:  An annual candle-lit lantern parade that uses art as a tool for community engagement and recovery.  Mahony Kiely – Whittlesea Shire Council


  • Panel Discussion:  An opportunity for attendees to ask questions on creativity, community and recovery with the speakers.


Day Two – Saturday 11th July 2015 (RAV 2015)

  • Welcome and Introduction to Day 2!
  • Working Creatively with People and Communities who have Experienced Traumatic Events:  Exploring how trauma affects the mind and body, tips and approaches that best support people and communities to heal, celebrating art as a tool for transformation.  Shelley Hewson, Nexus Primary Health


  • Singing Workshop:  Kerry Clarke, Choir Leader


  • The Work of our Neighbourhood Houses:  The up lifting and creative work of these important community groups.  Vicky Mann, Kinglake Neighbourhood House, Mary Farrow, Emerald Neighbourhood House, Megan Smithwick & Fiona Miller, Whittlesea Community Garden
  • Three concurrent workshops/presentations:
    • Lantern Making Workshop:  Mahony Kiely, Program Co-ordinator:  Community Development Through Performance/Art, City of Whittlesea
    • Art in Public Places:  The challenges and processes of creating art in a public space.  Sandy Caldow is a poet, freelance artist and the Public Art Office at the City of Whittlesea.  She writes for World Sculpture news and Asian Art news.  She has been involved with putting art in public places over the past 20 years and is still amazed by all aspects of it.  She, along with Kristen Cherry, Manager Active Communities in the Mitchell Shire will reflect on Council requirements, secret solutions and share memories of close calls and catastrophes averted.  Sandy Caldow, City of Whittlesea & Kristen Cherry, Mtichell Shire Council
    • Animal Felts:  Bring the kids! Making animal ears from felt, a paws-on workshop for beasties of all ages.  Barbara Joyce, Art therapist and Project Manager of the Chook Project
    • Creative reflection/Sunset ritual




No. 2 of 2 Creative Conversations with Regional Arts Victoria - Attendee at the Event - Karen Robinson - Abstract Artist 10th July 2015.JPG.JPG

No. 2 of 2 Creative Conversations with Regional Arts Victoria – Attendee at the Event – Karen Robinson – Abstract Artist 10th July 2015.JPG.JPG


I found myself realising even more, that “my own art for therapy journey” was/is very much alike what others have experienced after being subjected to a traumatic event.  After listening to the speakers it was clear that the path I have travelled has been and still is what was coined as “Post-Traumatic Growth“.  It also became apparent to me that people and whole communities fare much better where appropriate care and support is offered by trained professionals within the field of ‘Post-Trauma Growth’, along side of their personal ‘art for therapy’ endeavours.

During the event breaks, I found myself talking and listening to other attendees, mostly listening as they shared their personal stories about loss, grief, despair and ‘Post-Traumatic Growth‘.  Some of the stories I heard were deeply personal and some people were still struggling to reach a place where joy could be found in every day, even after many years since the traumatic event.  They talked about how they use art forms such as crocheting, painting, singing, dancing, writing etc to help manage their daily struggles in obtaining a good sense of wellbeing.

I came away better appreciating how the combination of “art for therapy” in conjunction with specialised professional care and support in the field of ‘Post-Traumatic Growth‘, can help people find a new path forward.  It was clear after speaking and listening to others at this event that this path of ‘post-trauma growth’ can be short for some, long for others and sadly for a few – never-ending.


ARTIST DISPLAYS – Mitchell Makers Exhibition

At the end of the first day of this event, a celebration with all occurred, which marked the opening of the Mitchell Makers Exhibition of new contemporary art from the Mitchell Shire, Regional Victoria, Australia.  Please find below a slide show of art works that where on display at this event.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Nexus Primary Health in partnership with Regional Arts Victoria, Mitchell Shire Council, MCRAG and the City of Whittlesea on the 16th September published this interesting “heartwarming grassroots documentary which highlights the powerful effect of how creativity & community spirit can be harnessed to achieve healing, transformation & recovery from trauma, natural disaster & all things that knock us sideways” (Nexus Primary Health 2015).




It’s a big role that Regional Arts Victoria (RAV) plays across the state of Victoria, Australia which assists, in keeping the arts alive, within these communities; and helps community members rebuild lives and townships after devastating bush fires have swept through their homes, their lands and their lives.  This particular event “Creative Conversations” was a wonderful way of bringing together a diverse group of people such as stakeholders, communities and individuals to share, learn and think about the wellbeing of people who need help with their “Post-Traumatic Growth” journey – Art for therapy at its very best I feel….


My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson – Abstract Artist/Blogger/Story-teller/Photo-taker

2 thoughts on “Regional Arts Victoria – “Creative Conversations and Post-Traumatic Growth” Blog Story by Karen Robinson

    • Hi Erik – yes you are right the iron/metal tree was just amazing and the amount of time and energy the coordinator and the blacksmiths put into the project was just outstanding. A very impressive outcome that was in responsive to a need for communities to heal after experiencing devastating bush fires. A good example of post-traumatic growth for individuals and communities as a whole… warm regards Karen


Comments welcome...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.