Art display gets locals talking about mental illness

Artist Janice Stewart put her art on display in Wingham to get people talking about mental illness.

Artist Janice Stewart put her art on display in Wingham to get people talking about mental illness.

ARTIST Janice Stewart felt exposed but grateful during her few days in Wingham this week.

Thanks to the generous support of landlord Belinda Crossingham, Janice was able to utilise an empty shop to display her collection of artworks from the past 15 years.

"My art is how I cope with life," she said.

Having struggled with mental health issues, Janice has used art as therapy and is now using her works to start conversations.

Janice admits her desire was to put her work "out there" and get the issue of mental health talked about.

"People don't talk about it," she said.

Yet talking and bringing our feelings out into the open can make a huge difference to someone suffering from a mental illness such as depression.

"People really listening and caring is huge and the little practical things are significant," admits Janice.

"Just having someone buy you a cup of coffee can mean a lot."

The art display was named "Unpacking," and curated by Satu Bushell of Satu's Framing and Renewed Treasures located just a few doors away.

On show were works Janice has previously shown in an exhibition at the University of Sydney.

Quite a number of people stopped to look at Janice's artwork and ended up sharing their own stories with her.

Janice currently divides her time between Wingham and Sydney but said many of the works were created locally.

"I literally started just scribbling," Janice said of her journey into art and ultimately art college.

"Art isn't with a big 'a', this is just me telling my story," she said.

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