ARTIST TALK 2019: “Artist Talk – Road Trauma” Presentation at TAC written and presented by Karen Robinson

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

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Late last year 2018, I had offered the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) a series of 7 (is actually now 9 ) paintings I had done about my road trauma experience and about my grieving process.  About how painting for myself, group art therapy, creative writing and volunteer speaking played a major role in helping me improve my sense of wellbeing.  How it gave me meaning and purpose to my life.

 

Earlier this year 2019, Stephanie Wood of TAC Geelong whom I have known since 2010 when I first exhibited some of my paintings at TAC’s ‘Picture This Exhibition – Melbourne’ – asked if I would like to do an Artist Talk. Stephanie also asked if I wouldn’t mind speaking about my volunteer speaking I had done for the first 5 years with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) and about the paid work I now undertake with the organisation. I was pleased to agree and grateful for such an opportunity! The presentation also included a live broadcast to TAC staff at their Melbourne Office as well.  Afterwards, I did a short podcast with Stephanie about the presentation on the day that could be viewed by staff members who were unable to attend and may be interested in viewing the PowerPoint Presentation and listen to the podcast at their leisure. NB:  Please find said podcast here below.

 

 

 

There were approximately 35 plus TAC staff in attendance between the Geelong and Melbourne Offices. They were genuinely attentive and asked many questions at the end of the presentation, which was very pleasing for me personally.  It was truly an honour to have had such an opportunity! Both Stephanie and my dear hubby Mark supported me before, during and afterwards which was greatly appreciated.  NB:  Please find towards the end of this blog the ‘Artist Talk – Road Trauma’ presentation slides and basic presentation wording I delivered on that day.

 

 

After the presentation, Stephanie took us to the area where all seven paintings were hung. Mark and I were blown away with the fact that Stephanie had all the paintings professionally hang with accompanying painting stories within the corporate part of TAC head office Geelong.  They looked amazing – it was thrilling for us to see them on the walls of TAC!  At last these paintings have found a good home where they will be viewed by many and hopefully help with conveying the importance of being a safe and responsible road user.

 

NB:  Recently Mark and I delivered to Stephanie Wood at TAC Geelong the two last paintings that now form 9 paintings in the series (painting no. 58 ‘A State of Mind’ and painting no. 60 ‘For One’s Wellbeing!’).

 

 

 

‘ARTIST TALK – ROAD TRAUMA’ POWER-POINT PRESENTATION SLIDES

Here below are the Power-Point Presentation slides and the wording that I basically presented on the day. During the live presentation, I did add additional information as needed and/or as seemed appropriate for the audience.

 

Slide 1: Introduction

Today I have been asked to speak about my artwork and about RTSSV. I have to confess – that it had me really thinking before coming here today, about how best to put together a presentation that was inclusive of both subjects! I have chosen to use a timeline throughout this presentation which expands over a 10 year period. At times these endeavours of mine have been very challenging – but have definitely been most worthy undertakings.  They have been a lifeline that has transformed my life, and thus influenced my relationships with others in a most positive and fruitful way. I came across a quote the other day on Facebook that stated this:

“One day you will tell your story, of how you’ve overcome, what you are going through now, and it will become part of someone’s survival guide.” I feel the work that RTSSV’s volunteers and paid staff do – does just that – for many within our community.

November 2008, my husband was diagnosed with Lymphoma, and I became his carer during the twelve-month period of his chemotherapy and recovery process. On the 5th November 2009, just twelve months on, our 25-year-old son Ben was killed in a single-vehicle car crash. I poured all my effects into painting as a way of being able to stay sane!  When I look back over my paintings and re-read the accompanying stories, I realise now, that I was using painting to work through a torrid of emotions. This process of painting and writing the corresponding story for each painting – became a very powerful tool to express emotions and feelings that were too hard to say out loud.

NB:  Here below I have included a short video that was produced by TAC about my art practices and about why I paint.  I didn’t show it during my presentation but feel it appropriate to include within this blog.

 

 

Slide 2:  Road Trauma Story

My family’s road trauma story began on Friday the 5th of November 2009. Early that morning, a knock at the front door, revealed a young police officer who asked me, was I Karen Robinson, Ben’s mum and I said yes.  With words that stumbled around, he said they were not sure, they had the right address.  He then stated that Ben, my son had been killed in a single-car crash.  Ben was 25, travelling at 140 kilometres per hour on a straight stretch of country road, in the early hours of the morning, with a BAC level of .08, hit a kangaroo, lost control of his vehicle, hit two trees and was killed instantly – the coroner’s report stated.  I want to say here, that he was not a bad person, he was well-loved and liked by many, but he did engage in risky driver behaviour for many years, and on the night of his death, made some choices that tragically cost him his life.  Ben is greatly missed and especially by me – his mum, his dad and sister. My family’s grieving process was different, for the each of us, but for myself, I wanted to see if I could connect with like-minded people – to give purpose and meaning to my life that had been completely shattered, by the sudden and tragic loss of our son Ben. Connecting with RTSSV proved to be, one of many steps I undertook during this decade journey of mine. RTSSV’s Volunteer speaker training back in 2011, lead me to spend 5 years as a volunteer speaker, sharing my life experience with road trauma, at Road Trauma Awareness seminars to repeat road traffic offenders – people just like my son. Someone asked me one day “you must feel great after sharing your story” and I thought at the time that, that was not the case.  After thinking about it for some time, I thought it was the worthiest of tasks I do in my life and still is! What has enhanced this journey of mine has been also through the paid work that I now do with RTSSV.  My volunteering has led to opportunities given to me by the organisation, to undertake the role of Regional Coordinator and RTAS Facilitator.  The RC role entails connecting me with other facilitators and other volunteer speakers.  My job is to help them stay connected regionally and with head office, help with training and give support where needed.  My role as an RTAS Facilitator is to facilitator sessions about road safety and road trauma, for traffic offender participants, in the hope they will become, safer and more responsible road users in the future.  It also gives me the opportunity to present at Schools, local businesses, and at Community Road Safety Forums.

 

Slide 3:  Using painting and storytelling about grief, loss and despair – the beginning…

PAINTING   45A – Title      “The Life of Our Son Ben” Acrylic on Canvas  Jan 10/June 10    91cms Length  x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story: Our only son Ben was born on the 16/11/83 and died in a car crash 5/11/09 at the age of just 25, just before his 26th birthday.  I had to do a painting to celebrate his life.  To know that the time Ben was here with us was a treasure shared with so many. Ben was loved and cherished and will be missed so much by all but mostly by us his mum being me, his dad and sister. In memory of Ben and his life with us – we love you, Ben. Each band of colour represents a year of Ben’s life from a baby, toddlerhood, small child, older child, teenager through to becoming a fully grown young man. Each colour represents the different emotions, feelings, experiences, growth Ben achieved in his 26 years with us. The spheres represent the worlds of people he had in his life from his own family of us (mum, dad and sister and his sister’s partner and now husband), extended family of nana, pa, aunties, uncles and cousins, work colleagues, first love, last love, other girlfriends and the best of mates.  In loving memory of our Ben…

PAINTING   45B – Title      “The Death of Our Son Ben”  Acrylic on Canvas  Jan /Jun 2010    91cms Length  x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story: Our son Ben was killed on the 5/11/09 in a car accident. Ben had just finished a 7-day shift at the Fosterville Gold Mines in Bendigo and was out with his Crew 3 work colleagues at their local drinking haunt. At approximately 1.30am Thursday morning they headed off from the bar to home. Ben was able to get a cab but his boss was not able to get one. His boss said for Ben to take the taxi and he would start walking home. Ben reached home safely but was concerned about his boss walking home alone. It was then that Ben decided to get into his car and go and pick up his boss and drive him home. This was a fatal decision Ben made. After picking up his boss, Ben headed back home via the road back to his work. This road was out through bush and farmland and Kangaroo area. At approximately 1.30am Ben travelling at approximately 140 kilometres and over .08 hit a kangaroo. Ben lost control of his car and at high speed collided into trees set on the side of the road. Ben was killed instantly. It was not until approximately 5am that Ben was discovered by one of Fosterville Gold Mine People. Ben made a terrible decision to get into his car that night but for a good reason to ensure his boss got home safely. When we went up to see where Ben had his crash it was incredibly emotional, distressing and heartbreaking. The decision to do a painting of Ben’s crash was all about trying to communicate to all young people about drinking and driving and how in just one split second, a life can be taken. That a young life taken is such a tragedy and that so many other people’s lives are deeply affected and changed forever as well for this loss. This painting shows the split-second of our son Ben’s death. The impact of his car of silver and crimson into the trees, the shattering of his car and his life. The road through what is very beautiful county Victoria, a strange contrast to the tragedy we were all facing! The blue in the crash is our boy’s soul, the gold is our treasured son and the blue triangles are his sole reaching for the night heavens. There is the road stretching into the distance and the gums in the bush fields.

 

Slide 4:  TAC Picture This Exhibition opportunity to show paintings…

November 2010, I participated in the TAC exhibition called “Picture This” along with other artists who had somehow been affected by road trauma.  It was located at Atrium Fed Square – Melbourne, Australia.  The exhibition provided people who had been affected by road trauma to use the artistic expression, whether it was drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, photography or textiles, to share their experiences.  The exhibitions showcased artwork by people who have either taken up art since being involved in a transport accident or who were artists before their accident (TAC 2019). Making the decision to be part of TAC’s “Picture This” 2010 was both difficult and important for myself and for my family.  When I painted these paintings, it was very much for me.  I was painting my way through my grief.  It was a way of being able to express my thoughts and emotions which I found very difficult to say out loud.  Our family were deeply sad during this period of time in our lives; and at times, just talking to each other was at times almost too hard to do.  So for me, painting became a form of therapy, I way to tell my story about grief, loss and heartache.

 

Slide 5:  Trying to accept our son’s death…

PAINTING   45C – Title “The Loss of Our Son Ben” Acrylic on Canvas  Jan/June 2010    91cms Length  x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story: This painting was all about the loss of our son.  The deep grief of this loss and the terrible emptiness felt by us.  How we felt that without Ben we were left with nothing of his future.  No hope, no marriage, no children of his and no Heritage of our son forthcoming.  As parents the loss of our only son is unrecoverable.  There is only the past we have of him which we will cherish forever but no present and no future. I was only hoping by painting this that young people could understand more fully about the issues of ‘drink driving’. Our son was just like any other young man who was trying to make a life for himself.  But tragically Ben was not able to continue on with his.  Hopefully, we may be able to save a young person’s life by sharing our son’s tragedy.

PAINTING   45D – Title      “Rest in Peace Ben”       Acrylic on Canvas  Jan11 /June 2011    91cms Length  x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story: It was not until earlier in 2010, that we were able to place Ben’s ashes and plaque at Fawkner Memorial Park. At the time, the roses were not in bloom, the grounds were dry and colourless and the day was cloudy and grey. It was a very sad, solemn day for us as parents and for Ben’s sister and her partner. Later that same year, we returned on the 5th November 2010, the first anniversary of Ben’s death. On this day of sad memories of Ben and our hearts full of grief, we found ourselves visiting a strangely beautiful place. The sky was bright blue; the colourful roses were in full bloom! The old elms trees were still bare but just starting to bud again. And all the shrubbery and grass was green again after the winter rains. We placed fresh flowers, in the small vase, set on his plaque and sat on the small seat overlooking the beautiful garden. We were one year on….it made it no easier to bare, the loss of our son, but we gained a small comfort, that he was at peace in a beautiful place, that we had done everything possible to pay respect to his memory. Ben would be in our hearts and minds forever. In this painting, I have tried to capture this spirit of our day, Ben’s first anniversary. I needed to remember Ben, at peace in a beautiful place….for my sake … as his mum…..I couldn’t paint another painting full of pain, I wanted to be able to look at this painting and think of the beautiful day, we spent remembering him, remembering our son and the 26 years, Ben was in our lives. Ben was killed in a motor vehicle crash, just outside of Bendigo 5th November 2009, at the age of 25 just before his 26th Birthday – In memory of Ben…

 

Slide 6:  Another form of therapy – volunteer speaking…

At the beginning of 2011, I undertook the volunteer training process. It also became a form of therapy and an important part of my life and still is. Volunteers play a significant role within RTSSV with many having personal experiences of road trauma and the impact it has on people’s lives. For a 5 year period, I shared my family’s road trauma life experience at RTAS sessions.  RTAS participants can be one-time road traffic offenders but most often are repeat road traffic offenders directed by (1) the Magistrates Courts to attend; (2) Solicitors pre-court attendance; (3) Community Corrections; (4) and some self-referred.  The volunteer’s story has proven to have the greatest impact on the participants in getting them to rethink about their risky driver behaviour, and in turn, this will hopefully save lives, reduce serious injury and reduce the ripple effect caused by road trauma.

 

Slide 7:  Using painting as a way of expressing feelings and thoughts…

PAINTING   45E – Title      “Reaching out to Sons” Acrylic on Canvas   Jan 11 /Jun 2011    91cms Length  x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story: This painting has been inspired by  “Road Trauma Awareness Seminars” and the people who attend them. There are 15 black circles, each being a driver and within the circle of colours. The black circles (participants) sit around a set of tables, all looking towards the presenters. The SES presenter is in the high left-hand side of this painting, with the RTSSV Educator, down at the front next to SES presenter. And there is me, Ben’s mum, telling my family’s Road Trauma Story. I painted myself in grey because it is very hard to tell my story. I have my arms in pearl white and reaching out to these sons, sons just like my son Ben. The circle of colour placed up on the top right corner of the painting is part of my presentation and is the ripple effect of Ben’s death. Ben being the centre with the ripples coming out, like when you drop a pebble into a pond and the water ripples out! Within this ripple effect are Ben’s Dad, Mum (me), his Sister and her Partner, his Girlfriend, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Best of Mates, his Work Mates, Previous Work Mates, Old School Friends and people I have come to understand have also been affected by road trauma; the workmate whom found Ben dead at the scene of the crash; the police officer who came to our home’s front door in Melbourne and told us Ben had been killed, the police officer who attended Ben’s crash, the SES people who removed Ben out of his car, the ambulance driver who took Ben to the Coroners, the Coroner and many others within our communities. The colours in the painting are about how these drivers (mainly men), how they come into the room full of life and hope. We share a solemn message about the outcomes of road trauma – death and serious injury. But the team of “Road Trauma Awareness” are reaching out, to try and get these drivers to change their driver behaviour in the hope that they don’t end up like Ben – my son.

PAINTING   45F – Title      “A Fractured Life”       Acrylic on Canvas         Feb /Oct 2012    91cms Length  x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story: The black square in the centre of the right top corner is the grief I hold in my life for my son’s loss.  The shapes coming out from his grief is my life as it was then, fractured!  It no longer fit the way it did before.  My life would never be the same.  To say I needed to build a new life…doesn’t fit either.  The loss of my son had left a gaping hole in my heart.

 

Slide 8:  Work or study?

2011 – 2013 “Advanced Diploma of Justice” – Equips the student with skills for employment in supervisory or management positions within the justice industry
2 years of full-time study 2011-2013 – thankfully achieved with High Distinction 

 

Slide 9:  Volunteer speaking and study leading into paid work opportunities…

2014 “Regional Coordinator Training” – The role consists of training, supervising, supporting
volunteer speakers and RTAS facilitators, also making connections with regional road safety stakeholders (RTSSV 2014) – completed and still in the role today 2019.

2015 “Group Facilitator Training” – Areas concluded: The impact of road trauma the RTAS program, supporting volunteers, dealing with challenging behaviours and delivery of the program (RTSSV 2015) – completed and still in the role today 2019.

From 2014 I have facilitated approximately 150 RTAS sessions consisting of approximately 1,500 participants!

 

Slide 10:  Getting to the other side of loss and looking for better days…

PAINTING   58 – Title  “A State of Mind”  Acrylic on Canvas                      Dec 2014      100cms Length  x 100cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story:  This painting was inspired by a sketch I did during an art therapy session in August 2014. During the session, our art therapy facilitator asked us to sketch within 5mins about ‘how we feel right now’.  My life, my state of mind right at that moment was best described as being more ‘cup half full’ as opposed to being half empty during earlier years.  The bright yellow is representative of sunny feelings; the blue and green colours representing cooler feelings and emotions; the orange and red being representative of rage and/or being upset; and lastly the black is representative of the loss of my son and the sorrowful feelings I have which will never go away.  During my art therapy session, I explained that my sketch and now in this painting, once turned upside-down, is representative of some days where it is not all sunny, they can be dark and looming such as the early years after the loss of my son. But these kind of days were few and far between now, as it had been nearly five years on since the loss of my son Ben in 2009 (it was August 2014 at the time the sketch was done).  Within the painting itself, I created scaffolding type lines in black which signify how my daily life, months, and years can be complicated by depression and anxiety. But I am in a much better place now than I have been My wellbeing has improved greatly with the use of art and creative writing therapy.

PAINTING  60 – Title   “Brick Wall”                        Acrylic on Canvas          May 2015      100cms Length  x 100cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story: We get a life to build and each brick in that wall of life represents our struggles and our successes – our human endeavours.  In my wall, the black represents grief, despair and sadness, the yellow represents sunny joyous happy days, the orange/red represents anger and frustration, the pink represents passion and love, the green represents steadiness and security, the brown represents the ‘done-and-dusted’ and the forgotten, the grey represents dullness and boredom, the purple represents adventure and secrets I have shared, and the pale blue represents ‘the sky’s the limit’!

 

Slide 11:  Being thankful to those who helped me through my journey

PAINTING   64 – Title: “For One’s Wellbeing” Acrylic on Canvas         Feb 2016                                                                                         90cms Length x 90cms Wide x 3cms Deep

Painting Story: This painting titled “For One’s Well-being” has been inspired by the groups of people I have brought into my life through activities such as Art Therapy and Creative Writing provided by Mind Australia; and also my volunteering and paid work that I do with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria.  For the sake of my own well-being, I have found over a course of time, that being part of community groups such as these organisations, has truly helped me gain a better sense of well-being.  Within the comfort and security of such organisations, I have witnessed how people have been empowered to voice their feelings, share, reveal, support, encourage each other during times of great difficulty alongside professional support systems. I have also witnessed how when participants choose to come and join such organisations they grow strong and more able to deal with day to day difficulties and I am one of those people. My painting reflects an image of myself in the foreground, with my support networks in the background.  They come from all walks of life, they are family such as my dear husband and my darling daughter, friends, workmates and community group members who have been an integral part of my life over recent years and all have contributed to my ability to reach a healthy mindset.  It also includes TAC! Hence varying colours of difference and colours with commonality. I couldn’t have got to this place where I am now without their support and this painting is a tribute to them all.

 

Slide 12:  About Road Trauma Support Services Victoria

 

Road Trauma Support Services Victoria is a not-for-profit organisation contributing to the safety and wellbeing of road users (RTSSV 2019).

Counselling:  Our counsellors are specially trained to help people manage the thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with road trauma.  Our counselling sessions are – free of charge – confidential – unlimited in number. You do not need a referral to access our services.  Sessions may be conducted face-to-face or by telephone.  Our clients include bereaved families, friends and colleagues; injured people and carers; drivers and passengers; and people who were first on the scene – witnesses, citizens who offered assistance, and emergency service workers.  This service is fully funded by TAC (RTSSV 2019).

Education:  We deliver a range of educational services that reach more than a thousand people each year.  For traffic offenders – Road Trauma Awareness Seminars are delivered in conjunction with the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria – as part of traffic offenders sentencing options.  These seminars now 10 years on are delivered at over 30 locations across Victoria each month.  We also present varying other programs at schools, community and corporate organisations and sporting clubs (RTSSV 2019).

 

Slide 13:  Voices of those who have been somehow impacted by road trauma…

 

Volunteer Speakers – people who have been personally impacted by road trauma play a critical role in our education programs. They undertake a training program with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria that is especially designed to assist them in preparation to become a speaker (RTSSV 2019). They are also able to receive ongoing support from Road Trauma Support Services’ counselling team, when and if they feel the need to! Volunteers share their deeply personal life experiences with road trauma, to help address the attitudes and behaviours of road users. This sharing of theirs is without a doubt, a most worthy community contribution, and we should all be grateful, for their selfless generosity…

 

Slide 14:  Time for Remembering Event…

The 3rd Sunday of November is the World Day of Remembrance for people who have life experiences with road trauma!  It allows attendees to commemorate the lives of loved ones lost on our roads, celebrates their lives and gives thanks for those who survived. It is also an opportunity to pay tribute to those agencies and individuals who work tirelessly to reduce the road toll and the associated trauma and grief (RTSSV 2019).

11.45am for a 12pm start
Sunday 17 November 2019
At Queens Hall, Parliament House, Melbourne
RSVP by Friday 15 November 2019 to office.manager@rtssv.org.au
Phone:  1300 367 797

 

Slide 15:  Get involved – Shine a Light on Road Safety Event…

RTSSV is the driving force behind the ‘Shine a Light on Road Safety’ yearly national campaign – alongside the United Nations Global Road Safety Week.  It’s a way for the organisation to highlight the importance of the work that we do, and the part we play in road safety.  Please come and join us in our campaign to raise awareness, to stop deaths and injuries on our roads, and to raise funds to support those impacted by road trauma.  You can support road safety by during Shine a Light week – landmarks across Australian are illuminated in yellow for road safety; Illuminations:  Monday 6th May to Sunday 12 May 2019 – perhaps you could look at having landmarks illuminated in your area? On Friday 10 May 2019 turn on your headlights to demonstrate a commitment to road safety; and join the community walk and BBQ from 11am to 1pm on Sunday 5 May 2019 at Albert Park Lake, Melbourne (RTSSV 2019). SUPPORTER – TAC

 

Side 16:  Conclusion and question time  – and there were many – just so good!

My volunteering experience with this organisation RTSSV has been lifesaving for sure! It has improved my sense of self-worth after our family’s tragic event. It helped me rebuild and re-energized my life to give it meaning and purpose. It has given me opportunities to connect and develop meaningful relationships with likeminded people, and opportunities to take up training to enhance existing skills, and learn new ones.

As a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a friend, a work colleague and community member – I am truly appreciative of this and thank you…

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion to this blog and now some 9 years on since the death of my son Ben, I have with the support of so many people been able to achieve much that has been important to me and my family.  My dear husband who has been clear of cancer now for these years is enjoying good health for his age.  My darling sweet daughter married a good man and they now have a beautiful little girl who we care for two days a week while my daughter works. Our little granddaughter brings us much joy into our daily lives.  Life is good and we are very grateful for what we have in our lives.  The loss of our son and his memory is never too far away in my thoughts, but I know he would be pleased to see we are all doing the best we can.  Love and miss you my dearest son – wish you were here to enjoy this life…sincerely your mum…

 

In memory of our beautiful son Ben – © Karen Robinson – Sept 2019

No. 1 of 5 Creative Writing - Poem Titled 'Crying Roses' written and photographed by Karen Robinson 5th November 2015.JPG

No. 1 of 5 Creative Writing – Poem Titled ‘Crying Roses’ written and photographed by Karen Robinson 5th November 2015.JPG

 


Please click here to visit my ‘Photography – About’ page where you will be able to find blog links and photographs about photographic adventures…

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

 

My Volunteering 2018: “Shine a Light on Road Safety” Written by Karen Robinson

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


 

 

“Shine a Light on Road Safety”

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

My name is Karen Robinson and my 25-year-old son Ben was killed in a single-car crash outside of Bendigo, Victoria – Australia in November 2009. He was travelling at 140km with a blood alcohol reading of 0.08 when he hit a kangaroo, lost control of his vehicle, and struck two trees.

I said to Ben once, that if he kept up his risky driver behaviour, I might have a police officer knocking at our front door. Unfortunately, that day did come, where our family received the news of Ben’s tragic death, via our local police.

Our family want drivers, and all road users, to think about Ben’s story in the hope that they will be safe and responsible drivers. Ben’s story is a reminder that from the very first drink you consume compromises your ability to make good decisions.

Whilst it is difficult to tell Ben’s story on behalf of my family, knowing that by sharing our family’s road trauma experience, can and does, help others understand better the importance of road safety.  It can help save lives and prevent serious injury caused by road trauma.

If being part of Road Trauma Support Services Victoria’s Organisation, telling my family’s road trauma story, and being part of the education team – can help prevent road trauma from affecting other families, this for us, is a most worthy of causes. This is why campaigns such as Shine a Light on Road Safety are vital; to help people think about what sort of driver/road user they are so that they, don’t end up being their family’s road trauma story…

 

“Be a safe and responsible driver”

“Don’t be your family’s road trauma story…”

 

“In loving memory of my son Ben James Robinson –

forever missed”

Written by Karen Robinson April 2018

 

ABOUT SHINE A LIGHT ON ROAD SAFETY

“Road Trauma Support Services Victoria’s Shine a Light on Road Safety campaign is to raise awareness, to stop deaths and injuries on our roads and to raise funds to support those impacted by road trauma: #shinealightonroadsafety (RTSSV 2018)”.

Friday 4 May motorists are asked to turn on headlights to remember those impacted by road trauma and show your commitment to road safety (RTSSV 2018).

Sunday 6 May there is a community walk at Albert Park Lake to enable community participation in advocating for safer roads (RTSSV 2018).

ILLUMINATIONS

Australian landmarks will be illuminated in yellow for road safety from Monday 30 April to Sunday 6 May; thanks to the support of key partners including the Victorian Government, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), VicRoads, Victoria Police and campaign sponsors (RTSSV 2018).

KEY CAMPAIGN MESSAGES

  • Road safety is everyone’s responsibility
  • Giving the community voice about road trauma
  • Our counselling and support services are available free and unlimited to anyone impacted by road trauma (RTSSV 2018).

THE ORGANISATION

Road Trauma Support Services Victoria “is a not-for-profit organisation contributing to the safety and wellbeing of Victorian road users. We provide counselling and support to people impacted by road trauma, and address attitudes and behaviours of road users through education. We are committed to educating the community and raising public awareness about road trauma and how it affects people’s lives; we do this in part by sharing personal stories about road trauma (RTSSV 2018)”.

 

CONCLUSION

As Ben’s mum – my road safety message for all road users:

Be a safe and responsible driver – don’t be your families road trauma story

REGISTER HERE!


 

Please click here to visit my volunteering page where you will be able to find blog links and photographs about other photographic adventures…

© Karen Robinson – April 2018

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

Creative Writing – June 2016 “I Am Listening…” Poem by Karen Robinson

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Volunteer Speaking at a Road Trauma Awareness Seminar Melbourne Australia with RTSSV - Karen Robinson June 2016

Karen Robinson (me) Volunteer Speaking at a Road Trauma Awareness Seminar Melbourne Australia with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria – Karen Robinson June 2016

 

INTRODUCTION

Last night – Tuesday 14th June, 2016 at RTSSV’sRoad Trauma Awareness Seminar (RTAS) in Werribee as a RTAS Volunteer Speaker, I told my family’s, being husband’s and my daughter’s road trauma story about my son Ben – killed in a single vehicle car crash on the 5th November, 2009. Like many other RTAS volunteer speakers each month across the state of Victoria – Australia for Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV), we share with repeat road traffic offenders our road trauma stories, in the hope that repeat road traffic offenders gain a greater understanding about how risky driver behaviour is deadly. That it only takes one careless action as a driver to cause death and serious injury which in turn can leave behind, a devastating ripple effect.

Talking to and with these RTAS participants about their risky driver behaviour, once again reaffirmed the importance of the volunteer work that we do. Sure, it’s not easy and sure why do it all – might be your question. But when I hear, like many other volunteers hear, what participants say at the end of the Road Trauma Awareness Seminars: about what they have learned in regard to road safety and road trauma; about what they had never understood beforehand about the ripple effect impact of road trauma on family, friends, workmates and the wider community; and about how hearing our personal road trauma stories, has got them re-thinking about their own risky driver behaviour – it becomes apparent that it is a very worthwhile task and for me is the hardest thing I do.

 

POEM INSPIRATION

I found myself wanting to write, needing to write and I wrote this short poem about my feelings relating to this week’s Road Trauma Awareness Seminar Volunteer speaking experience.  This is what I wrote…

 

Title:  “I Am Listening…” Prose Poem

 



Here I am, again, listening to their reasons why

and as I hear, I cannot help but sigh!

 


They talk about the daily risks they take

and my calm facial expression is all a fake

 


for I know if they continue on in this vein,

their lives will not be blessed by the ordained.

 


Their loved ones will end up mourning their loss

for their risk-taking comes at a massive cost.

 


The tears, heartache and emptiness of soul

will leave their loved ones with this only role.

 


And as for me, I am already there -

left without my son and left with great despair.



Prose Poem ©Karen Robinson, June 2016

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

Writing this poem helped me process my feelings and thoughts about what I heard, saw and experienced during my RTAS volunteer speaking this week.  At this particular RTA Seminar there was another whom had experienced the loss of a loved one through road trauma and he hadn’t spoken about his loss for over 20 years…  It was very sad and demonstrated just how important it is to reach out and share our feelings, thoughts and emotions in order to maintain a healthy sense of well-being.  My creative writing and art practice gives me a way to maintain my well-being and has become an important way for me to continue on moving forward with my post-traumatic growth journey.

 

Written by © Karen Robinson – June 2016

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  Post-traumatic Growth – My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

My Volunteering

Source: My Volunteering

Abstract Painting No. 45E Titled 'Reaching Out To Sons' Acrylic on Canvas 91cms Length x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist - 2011 NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

Abstract Painting No. 45E Titled ‘Reaching Out To Sons’ Acrylic on Canvas 91cms Length x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep by Karen Robinson Abstract Artist – 2011.  Inspired by telling my family’s road trauma story at Road Trauma awareness Seminars most months since March 2011 about my son Ben who was killed in a single vehicle car crash on 5th November 2009 – in the hope that RTAS participants, repeat road traffic offenders will rethink about their risky driver behaviour and in turn save lives, reduce serious injury and lessen the ripple effect of road trauma.  Painting story/meaning can be found within this weblog page for ‘My Volunteering’.  NB:  All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

 

This is a new weblog page I have added which is about my volunteering with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV).  I have been doing this most worthy task since the beginning of 2011 – in memory of my son who was killed in a single vehicle car crash, at the age of 25 on the 5th November 2009…Please click here to view…Karen Robinson

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

 

Creative Writing – October 2015 “Crying Roses…” Poem by Karen Robinson

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No. 5 of 5 Creative Writing - Poem Titled 'Crying Roses' written and photographed by Karen Robinson 5th November 2015.JPG

No. 5 of 5 Creative Writing – Photo taken by Karen Robinson at Fawkner Memorial Park, Melbourne, Australia on the 5th November 2015. The rain drenched roses featured in the photo were used as a source of inspiration for a Poem Titled ‘Crying Roses…’ written by Karen Robinson to mark the 6th anniversary of her son’s death who was killed in a single vehicle car crash on the 5th November 2009.JPG

 

INTRODUCTION

It’s that time of the year again, a time that marks another year where my husband and I especially on this day, the 5th November 2015, take a drive to Fawkner Memorial Park to pay our respects to the memory of our son.  Over the last five years, each of these days have been strangely beautiful amongst the extraordinary array of fully bloomed roses.  Each year signifies, that our choice of Memorial Park to place our son’s ashes was the right choice, as it serves as our quiet place to think of Ben and how much we miss him so.  To ponder about, what it would have been like, if he was still here with us today!

 

NoNo. 1 of 5 Creative Writing - Mark & Karen's son's plaque which sits proudly over the cavity that holds his ashes at Fawkner Memorial Park, Melbourne, Australia on 5th November 2015 used as inspiration to write a Poem Titled 'Crying Roses' to mark the 6th anniversay of his death. Photographed by Karen Robinson - Ben's mum 5.11.15.JPG

No. 1 of 5 Creative Writing – Mark & Karen’s son’s plaque which sits proudly over the cavity that holds his ashes at Fawkner Memorial Park, Melbourne, Australia on 5th November 2015 used as inspiration to write a Poem Titled ‘Crying Roses’ to mark the 6th anniversary of his death. Photographed by Karen Robinson – Ben’s mum 5.11.15.JPG

 

POEM INSPIRATION

Upon our arrival at Fawkner Memorial Park, and as I was alighting from the car and walking across towards Ben’s Plaque and then through the wonderful array of fully bloomed roses, I was taken aback by the rain drenched roses.  I had never seen roses so full of water and one rose in particular looked like there were tears falling from its heart!  The rain drops appeared to me like it was crying…

 

No. 2 of 5 Creative Writing - Poem Titled 'Crying Roses' written and photographed by Karen Robinson 5th November 2015.JPG

No. 2 of 5 Creative Writing – Poem Titled ‘Crying Roses’ written and photographed by Karen Robinson 5th November 2015.JPG

 

I found myself saying out loud to my husband “Look, the roses look like they are crying…”.  It felt profound to make such a statement and perhaps it was just a reflection of how I felt in my own heart right at that particular moment.  On my return, I wrote the below poem to mark the 6th anniversary of my boy’s death.

 

Title:  “Crying Roses…” Poem

 


It’s raining and the roses look like they are crying.

Perhaps they know we are here amongst the ones

who were once dying.

 


Both my husband and I stop and sit in silence,

thinking about our loss and leaning on one another

with great reliance.

 


It’s been 6 years now since the passing of our son.

We often think why -- why did he have to be the one.

 

It’s now time to stand
and walk a little amongst the rain drenched roses,

and I seek my dear husband’s guidance to do some poses

 

for each year we make this pilgrimage to remember

and always on the 5th of November.

 

A coffee and cake we share

where conversation is mostly spare



then it’s back home and a chat with our daughter,

the one we now look towards, in our family, to be the mortar.

 

How precious she is to both of us

and our endless love for her will always be a must.

 

Poem © Karen Robinson - November 2015

 

PHOTO-TAKING IMPORTANT

Photo-taking has been what I have done most of my life, the recording of special family moments!  And I have always taken photos on these days.  I learned that taking photos is just so important, they serve the memory well when loved ones have passed, when the memory begins to fail and for further generations to ponder over and wonder…

 

 

CONCLUSION

It’s another day now and the sun has come out and dried up all the rain … time to go out and play, rejoice and enjoy the one and only life we get to live…

 

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

New Membership – Regional Arts Victoria ‘Just become a member!’ by Karen Robinson

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

 

 

I have just become a member of Regional Arts Victoria.  They “inspire art across the state of Victoria through creative facilitation, touring, education, specialised resources, artistic projects and advocacy.  They develop and sustain creative communities and artistic practice” all over Victoria, Australia (Regional Arts Victoria 2015).

Regional Arts Victoria are an “independent, not-for-profit, membership-based organisation working in long-term partnerships with every level of government, fostering contemporary and innovative regional cultural practice across five decades.  They advise and impact on decision-making across multiple portfolios and levels of government.  The organisation is the peak body for regional artists and arts organisations, and the leading organisation for regional creative practice in Victoria, Australia” (Regional Arts Victoria 2015).

This is exciting for me and I am hoping that I will have lots to share through my blogging as I become more familiar with this organisation.

 

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

Creative Writing Group Session 6 of 6 – “Pools of Strength…”

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No. 1 Creative Writing Session 6 & Abstract Painting 'Pools of Strength' Acrylic Painting on A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

No. 1 Creative Writing Session 6 & Abstract Painting ‘Pools of Strength’ Acrylic Painting on A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

INTRODUCTION

We have arrived at our last session of creative writing and it is a cheerful gathering of participants.  It was time to take a moment out to reflect on our creative writing efforts; and to appreciate friendships formed around the interesting, honest and deeply personal accounts of our shared creative writing efforts.  To also be thankful that we had the generous support of the organisation that had supplied us with our creative writing facilitator and support facilitator – such good people.

THE CREATIVE WRITING HOMEWORK

Our homework that we presented here at this last session, was to be based around 3 separate moments within the week prior, that we thought we required strength of mind.  I didn’t think that I was going to have anything within a week to write about but upon reflection, I found small pockets of time, where I found myself looking for a personal strength and I wrote the following short essays on the said:

Title:  Pools of Strength I – The Family Pet Jessie

“I found myself believing, I was going to require some strength, when my husband told me he was going to be taking our beloved family dog Jessie to the vet; as we had found another lump, this time on his leg. Jessie is an old dog now, but is in good shape considering his age. Sometimes I think – I wish I was in, as good a shape as he! Our dog has lumps on his body and we have been told, in the past, by our vet, that there is nothing to worry about, just fatty tissue deposits. But now there is this new lump on Jessie’s leg which the vet had indicated he is concerned about and needed to take a sample for testing. So I was preparing myself for bad news from my husband on his return home from the vet with Jessie on this day. Thankfully – all is OK and it is just another fatty deposit which means our beloved family pet – Jessie will be with us more…”

Written by Karen Robinson 13/12/14 ‘Copyright’ Protected

Title:  Pools of Strength II – Sisterly Concern

“Just yesterday, and just another day in a week, a dear friend called me and once again I could detect anxiety in her voice. Each time I hear this, I find myself having to draw on my reserves of strength, in order that I can be a good friend and be able to support her in such a way that she will feel less anxiety, more hopefulness after each of our conversations. I will see her again this coming week, which has become a ritual over the past few months; as I have found it seems to be giving her a counter balance to the rest of her week. Just when I think she has reached her tipping point of despair, a good conversation seems to pull her back to a more balanced mindset. I worry that one day, I will not be there to help her… but for now, I reach for my strength… to help her be strong… when she needs to be better for herself.”

Written by Karen Robinson 13/12/14 ‘Copyright’ Protected

Title:  Pools of Strength II – A Worthy Task

“On Monday night of this week, I told my family’s road trauma story to repeat road traffic offenders, whom have been sent by the Magistrates courts as part of their sentencing requirements. This task I do once a month mostly and requires of me some strength. When I hear about these participants’ risky driver behaviour, about how they have been putting themselves and others at risk on our roads, it becomes clear to me that by hearing my story will hopefully give them the strength they need to make better choices about their risky driver behaviour. I leave behind on these nights, a sense that a worthy task has been achieved and I return home to regain my strength for the next time it will be called upon.”

Written by Karen Robinson 13/12/14 ‘Copyright’ Protected

 

CREATIVE WRITING INSPIRING ART!

Again I wanted to use my creative writing piece to inspire an art work and is featured below titled ‘Pools of Strength’. They are not ‘master pieces’ but are an important part of a therapeutic process that I enjoy and helps complete my art for therapy journey after each creative writing group session.

CONCLUSION

Once again, after our creative writing session, we headed off to the local restaurant to share a meal together and engage in good conversation – such a wonderful privilege…

Thank you for joining me on this Creative Writing Group Session Journey!  Please click on the below links to view Nos. 1,2,3,4 & 5 Creative Writing Group Sessions:

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Creative Writing Group”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Creative Writing Group Session 4 of 6 – “A Time to Remember…”

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No. 1 Creative Writing Session 4 'A Time to Remember' Acrylic Paint A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson Nov 2014 NB All images protected by copyright law.JPG

No. 1 Creative Writing Session 4 ‘A Time to Remember’ Acrylic Paint A3 HW Paper by Karen Robinson Nov 2014 NB All images protected by copyright law.JPG

INTRODUCTION

Acreative writing participants, we are now just past mid way through our journey within this group.  It has been an interesting process so far – learning about what sort of writers each of us are and how much we differ in our writing approaches.  What has been most interesting, is hearing each other’s writing voices through the sharing of our stories each week.

THE CREATIVE WRITING HOMEWORK

For our last week’s homework creative writing piece, we were asked to write about ‘words that have helped ourselves get through something‘. After some reflection, I wrote about the words I found to help me through my greatest loss – the death of my son Ben.  I called it  ‘A Time to Remember’.

Title:  A Time to Remember...

“There was a time in my life, where there were no words that could help me after the loss of my son Ben, who was killed in a single vehicle car crash on the 5th November 2009, at the age of 25. I found myself searching for some way to be able to want to move forward, to find meaning and purpose in my life, to find some small measure of joy in every day.

No. 19 Creative Writing Session 3 - 'A Time to Remember' Ben James Robinson 16.11.1983 - 5.11.2009 Photo taken by Karen Robinson NB all images are protected.jpg

No. 19 Creative Writing Session 3 – ‘A Time to Remember’ Ben James Robinson 16.11.1983 – 5.11.2009 Photo taken by Karen Robinson NB all images are protected by copyright laws.jpg

In early 2010, I had decided to do volunteer speaking with an organisation that uses volunteer speakers, to tell their family’s road trauma story to repeat road traffic offenders, in the hope that by hearing the volunteer speaker’s personal story, their words, would help these drivers to rethink about their risky driver behaviour.

It was at this time, I wrote my family’s road trauma story. I remember getting started and setting out to put my thoughts into words, in preparation of my ‘Road Trauma Awareness’ presentation to come. It was a very painful process, deeply personal, confronting, distressing, physically draining and mentally both challenging and depressing. I found myself swallowed up in tears and full of sorrow. Over time – I wrote, rewrote and rewrote again, as it became a sort of dialogue with me and the memory of my son; a way to look over how and why he had been killed. It also became a defining reality that Ben, my son was not ever going to return, that his death was the end of my real life relationship with him as his mother. My heart was broken and I didn’t know how I was going to fix it…

Most months, since then, I tell my family’s road trauma story. I read these precious words about his life, the cause of his death, his memory – to other mothers’ sons, hoping that by sharing my words, sharing my family’s story will save lives and reduce serious injury caused by road trauma; caused by risky driver behaviour…

It has been five years now, since Ben’s death, and it was on the 5th November this month, another anniversary of his death, that my husband, my daughter and I visited Fawkner Memorial Park, where Ben’s ashes have been placed. Each year, I look at his plague where our carefully chosen words read –

“In loving memory of Ben James Robinson
16th November 1983 – 5th November 2009
Loved Son of Mark and Karen Robinson
Loved brother of Kelly Robinson
Loved Grandson, Nephew, Cousin and Friend
Taken too soon…our beautiful boy Ben…forever in our hearts…forever remembered…forever missed…”

No. 1 Creative Writing Session 3 - 'A time to Remember' Photographed by Karen Robinson NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

No. 1 Creative Writing Session 3 – ‘A time to Remember’ Photographed by Karen Robinson NB All images are protected by copyright laws.JPG

Fawkner Memorial Park is beautiful at this time of the year with all its carefully manicured roses standing at attention; almost as if it was a respectful recognition of our presence.. Their scented, showy blooms and wonderful array of colour is a source of comfort to us. Whilst the day is a sad and difficult day, it has become a day we make this pilgrimage to visit Ben’s memorial within this strangely beautiful scene.  A brilliant blue sky hangs over us, like a protective blanket; the sun gently warms our bodies as we take some time out to think about our Ben.  It was his birth day on Sunday, the 16th of this month. He would have been… 31…”

Written 25/11/2014 by Karen Robinson in loving memory of Ben…my son 16th November 1983 – 5th November 2009 – ‘Copyright’ Protected

 

CREATIVE WRITING INSPIRING PHOTO-TAKING

I am an avid photo-taker and have realised over many years now, that photo-taking has given me an opportunity to record important family events and moments that other wise would be lost in my memory archives, as I age.  Taking photos ensures I have a picture story to forward onto my family’s future generations.  There have been many, many happy moments captured in this manner.  So it is not a surprise that I would also capture moments my family share, when we do our yearly pilgrimage to Fawkner Memorial Park; to take moments out to think about our Ben.

CREATIVE WRITING INSPIRING ART!

Again I wanted to use my creative writing piece to inspire an art work and is featured below titled ‘A Time to Remember’. They are not ‘master pieces’ but are an important part of a therapeutic process that I enjoy and helps complete my art for therapy journey after each creative writing group session.

CONCLUSION

Thank you for joining me on this Creative Writing Group Session Journey!  Please click on the below links to view Nos. 1,2 & 3 Creative Writing Group Sessions:

NB:  For the purposes of this weblog series “Creative Writing Group”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions.  Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session.  I hope you will understand.

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Short and Sweet Post! “Artist Interview with Casey Webb of Jung Katz”

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This month – July, 2014 – I had the good fortune to have had the opportunity to be interviewed by Casey Webb – Jung Katz – Blog for Artists.  Please click here to read “Artist Interview: Karen Robinson – Abstract Painter”.

It was a wonderful way of being able to share with others my ‘art for therapy’ story and I really enjoyed the process of thinking through the set of questions that Casey Webb for Jung Katz – Blog for Artists had put forward as set out below:-

  • Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you make?
  • How did you get started making the type of art you make?
  • What is art to you?
  • What does your typical day look like?
  • How have others responded to your work?
  • How do you keep motivated?
  • What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
  • What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
  • Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
  • What are your thoughts on art school?
  • Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
  • What’s your dream project?
  • What art supplies do you use?
  • How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
  • Any other artists that you would like to recommend for others to check out as well?

I hope you will take a look and make comments – I would love to know what you think. Please click here to read “Artist Interview: Karen Robinson – Abstract Painter”.

Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy JourneyA window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytellingby Karen Robinson

Art Award – Hume City Council Arts 2014 Awards!

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hume_arts_award_2014_hp1.

In June, 2014 I was the recipient of a Hume City Council Arts Award for ‘Professional Development Grant” in the category of Established Visual Artists (Melbourne, Australia).

Hume stated that in “2014 Hume Arts Awards received a significant number of applications, signifying the breadth and quality of artistic endeavours being undertaken throughout the municipality, especially among young people.  The Awards not only provide an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the talent of local artists, but contribute to community strengthening by encouraging artists to articulate the value of their work and develop a future vision.  The Awards likewise assist in promoting the profile of the arts in Hume and supports the building of Hume’s identity and sense of place, contributing to the important development of civic pride” (Hume City Council. June, 20).

It was a proud moment for me and my family and friends.  I am very grateful to Hume City Council for this award and hope to be part of Hume community art programs to come!

Karen Robinson's Hume City Council Arts 2014 Award NB All images are protected by copyright laws!

Karen Robinson’s Hume City Council Arts 2014 Award NB All images are protected by copyright laws!

The abstract paintings below consists of the “Support Material” that I submitted with my application for a Professional Development Program grant.

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