Friends of Rockingham Arts Community (FoRAC) recognises the benefits of creative therapy on wellbeing and runs biennial mental health projects involving the community in a range of free art, ceramics and writing projects that culminate in a major local exhibition and the production of an anthology.
FoRAC chairperson Bec Thomas’s idea for the Let’s Face It project in 2016 grew from a visit to an exhibition of ceramic masks in a park several years earlier.
“Having suffered from a mental illness for as long as I can remember, I felt my whole life had consisted of hiding behind a mask to protect myself from the societal taboo,” she said. “Over the next couple of years as my own passion for ceramics grew, I often thought about the masks and the possibility of creating a large-scale installation to support others living with mental illness and assisting to bring this far too common issue into the public eye.”
Bec’s idea was enthusiastically received by the FoRAC committee and following the approval of funding applications to Healthway and the City of Rockingham, plus support from Act Belong Commit and Mentally Healthy WA, the project got underway. It quickly grew to include an anthology of personal stories written by people in the community living with a mental illness. Following four months of enthusiastic involvement from people of all ages including children at local primary schools, the Let’s Face It mask exhibition and anthology were launched during Mental Health Week in October 2016.
Following the success of that first community project, many people encouraged Bec to make it a regular event and after much brainstorming and collaboration, Out of the Blue, also comprising an art and ceramics exhibition and an anthology, began to take shape and was ready to be launched for Mental Health Week 2018.
Birds of a Feather, FoRAC’s next community mental health project, is currently being organised.
For more information about how FoRAC and its initiatives, the Rockingham Writers Centre and Rockingham Ceramics Studio can involve the community, please contact Bec at firstname.lastname@example.org