Group Art Therapy – 2018

POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH:  Improving one’s sense of wellbeing using art, creative writing, photography, public speaking and blogging – my journey written by ©Karen Robinson.  Please click here for my latest blog news!







Once a year Road Trauma Support Services’ Manager for Education (Chris Harrison) organises a State Education Team Gathering Weekend (this year at Iluka Retreat and Camp – Red Hill South, Victoria – Australia) for all Regional Coordinators, RTAS Facilitators, Volunteer Speakers and Head Office Administration team members. It’s a grand opportunity for us to get together to learn new skills, further develop existing skills, engage in team building activities, and to also just be able to catch-up and have a chat! This year 2018 – Chris Harrison organised an excellent Consultant/Facilitator from ‘Health and Wellbeing’ whom presented on the subject of ‘Motivational Interviewing/Mindfulness’. Also one of our Regional Coordinators/Facilitators – Genevieve Saxby presented on ‘MATE’ (Gender Bias) to keep us up-to-date on the latest understandings of this subject matter; ‘Social Media’ presented by RTSSV’s Bronwyn Saville to ensure we fully appreciated what it means to share on social media; ‘Trauma Informed Yoga’ and ‘Team Building Activities’ lead by our Manager for Education – Chris Harrison at the end of the second day so that we all left in good spirits.






On the Saturday night – I (Karen Robinson – RTSSV Regional Coordinator/RTAS Facilitator) run a Creative Activity which I titled ‘BEHIND THE MASK’. It was an opportunity to explore how we look behind the mask in the work that we do as Regional Coordinators, Facilitators and Volunteer Speakers. And then we engaged in having some fun, making a portrait mask of ourselves; and on completion, shared our creative portrait mask making endeavours. One of the Regional Coordinators Daniel Bell brought a wrestling mask with him and shared its interesting history with the group.






Athenian actors used the now famous ‘happy masks of Comedy and sad masks of Tragedy’ to celebrate gods especially during a festival called Dionysia, which honoured the Greek god of Dionysus, god of fertility, harvest, wine-making, religious ecstasy, myth, and theatre (History of Masks 2018).  Masks usually represent supernatural beings, ancestors, and fanciful or imagined figures, and they can also be portraits.  When worn or displayed, is regarded as an object suffused with great supernatural or spirit power.  Mask, a form of disguise or concealment usually worn over or in front of the face to hide the identity of a person and by its own features to establish another being.  This essential characteristic of hiding and revealing personalities or moods is common to all mask.  As cultural objects they have been used throughout the world in all periods since the Stone Age and have been as varied in appearance as in their use and symbolism (Britannica 2018).  In modern times mask wearing can be for many reasons:  for fun, for protection, or to make a statement.  In turbulent public settings, obscuring one’s face can protect an individual from retaliation while evoking fear and uncertainty in others.  Donning the mask of a cultural, political, or religious figure can lend that person power and further his or her legacy.  Those who wear masks to protect their faces from environmental hazards may also end up sending a message of caution to outside observers.  In many cases, though, masks play a more light-hearted role, allowing the wearer to take part in a festival.

Colour can play an important part in communicating a visual message. Chinese Opera Masks Colour meaning (Highend3d 2018):

  • White:  sinister, evil, crazy, treacherous, and suspicious.  Anyone wearing a white mask is usually the villain
  • Green:  impulsive, violent, no self-restraint or self-control
  • Red:  brave, loyal
  • Black:  rough, fierce, cool-headed
  • Yellow:  ambitious, fierce, or impartial
  • Blue:  steadfast, someone who is loyal and sticks to one side no matter what

Additionally gold and silver faces represent mystery and aloofness.  Of course the masks are often not real masks on stage but elaborate make-up and costuming so that the plays can sing and pantomime to extravagant and wondrous effect (Ferrebeekeeper 2018).







At the end of the session, it was my pleasure to award a $2 gold trophy to 3 participants whose masks were outstanding. But really all that participated on the night deserved a trophy. It proved to be a successful way of winding down, especially after a big first day of the weekend. It also revealed that we all have hidden inside of us, a creative person just waiting to be discovered. I was truly touched by the enthusiasm and willingness of all to take part in this creative activity – a big thank you from me. I took a series of photographs of the ‘BEHIND THE MASK’ Session which can be found above and below.




© Karen Robinson – August 2018

POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH:  Improving one’s sense of wellbeing using art, creative writing, photography, public speaking and blogging – my journey written by ©Karen Robinson.  Please click here for my latest blog news!