During my time in Bathurst I was lucky to be able to stay with Rachel Ellis.
This series of rural workshops, doing one after the other so close together, is making it even clearer that each new workshop is totally different from the last!
ALLY has cerebral palsy and let's us know if she likes something by an excited animated expression, as she cannot speak nor control her physical movements. She responded really strongly to the image previously created by Emily where her face is blended with that of a tiger. Ally loves animals and so we created a portrait of her in a beautiful fur jacket with a white tiger.
Ally is learning photography once a week and will now have a switch to enable her to control the camera shutter fitted to her chair. She is taking photos with her carer by expressing her excitement when she sees something she wants to make an image of.
George paints on the computer at home and says that his self-portrait was inspired by a portrait by Picasso, because his style is so different and unique. It was great to see George embracing these techniques.
At the end of the workshops we discovered that Sean had been a graffiti artist, and had actually acquired his brain injury while doing his graffiti art. His carers from ABI and family came along to the final exhibition and saw his focused interest in the program. They said that they intended to purchase the apps and iPad for his upcoming birthday. Sean also wrote by hand a long message of text about the environment that accompanies his image, which the carer agency took this back to the office and framed – they believed this would be an encouragement to his carers to see what Sean was capable of.
The next day Catherine came to the workshop more positive and changed her image to include her animals and grandson in her portrait. They were waking with her down the road and leaving the bleakness behind. By the end of the project, Katherine said she felt so much lighter, having let go of the burden of her dark emotions. In an interview, she described art as "another means of self expression and communication" and saying that the workshops were "cathartic in the utmost degree."