I enjoy singing, playing piano and dabble in songwriting. I work in healthcare and this theme really draws me in as I feel that we do not adequately address the mental health needs of people in Australia. Music and song is a great medium to explore ways in which we can find connection and belonging in society today, and I have loved the opportunity to explore this theme through songwriting with my Dad, Steve.
I love collaborating with different disciplines to create works intergrating multiple art forms. I have a background in theatre and have developed an aerial practice over the past decade, working predominantly in ground based harness. I also love producing work and helping see art shared and enjoyed. Creativity has been a space that has offered me community and belonging, a space and practie to return to and be grounded once again.
I am a writer and particularly interested in thinking about what stories we choose tell and how we tell them. I completed a BA with honours in Literature and Gender Studies (University of Queensland), an MA in Linguistics, and a PhD in Creative Writing (University of New South Wales). My masters thesis focused on how language is used to depict trauma in fiction, which sparked my interest in and informs my approach to the topics of mental health and belonging.
My passions are drawing and painting, I have also worked in performance and video.
I lived and studied in the Netherlands for 16 years. Dealing with my mental health I use drawing to help me explain the world around me. I draw obsessively my surroundings, people, nature, fantasy and dreams.
I am a printmaker and community maker. With a background in community organisations I have witnessed how healing is often experienced in the small spaces between people. I am interested in exploring belonging in community and how collective spaces can allow us to be found. My love of both the simplicity of Lino (relief printing) and the bespoke nature of collage allow me to speak in replicated patterns that depict beauty in unique pieces with common themes.
I am the daughter of refugees living on unceded Darug Land. Western Sydney has been my home for 30+ years and yet there is a longing to be back on ancestral lands, that inflicted genocide against my people. I am not wanted there, I am told to go back to where I come from here. I am keen to explore more than just this idea but also question who gets to make art, and how the intersections of various identities keep some of us out of art spaces while others are able to belong there fairly easily.
I am a versatile artist creating works of aerial dance theatre for both stage and film. My work is characterised by filmic storytelling merging relatable narratives with aerial and dance choreography.For Creative Conversations I am focused on the connection between longing to be and not belonging. Through this conversation, I like to draw attention to the effect on mental health when one’s expectations conflict with societal norms.To be in a perpetual state of unfulfilled longing, at the door of belonging but not invited in, take a mental doggedness and drives an emotional cycle of resistance verse resilience.
I am a ceramic artist and emerging painter, inspired by nature and life. My work is abstract, drawing on the feelings and memory of a place or experience. Music is crucial in taking me to a place of freedom where I create out of intuition rather than logic, hence the collaboration with a musician for this project. The theme of mental health is close to my heart but it wasn’t until I began my research for this project that I realised how crucial belonging is to all of our mental well being.
I was a very occasional poet until the last couple of years, when I have begun to write a little more regularly. I find poetry lets me express things that are close to impossible to talk coherently about in any other way. Most of my poems deal with themes of connection, vulnerability, faith, and mental illness – which I have a great deal of lived experience with.
I’m an Art Psychotherapist, and artist, living and working on Gadigal land. Offering a non-verbal therapy to the community allows people to explore, express and connect through art. Being authentic, curious, and open can help facilitate a safe space for people to heal through art. Art making has always been intrinsically healing, and has evolved, becoming focused on different energy shifts. Navigating various energies, thoughts, and feelings my work has become a sensory exploration. Painting with my hands has become a way to connect and ground myself through playful experimenting and using colours reflective of the ocean and various landscapes.
I am a musician, singer-songwriter, and teacher. I have completed a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education in English Literature and Theatre and Film Studies from UNSW Sydney. I am classically trained on piano and self taught on guitar and voice. My passion for creativity has led me to further studies in Creative Writing, Philosophy, and Theology. I am inspired to creatively explore and challenge preconceived notions of human thriving, ultimately questioning what constitutes belonging and success.
I am a singer and songwriter from Sydney. My music tends to tell stories about lived experiences, and I love the way that music can influence emotions. I've been fortunate to spend time with and support organisations like Sydney Street Choir, Clontarf Foundation, Wayside Chapel and The Dish. Each creates a place for people to be seen and loved without judgement; to belong.
I am a poet and composer living on unceded Gadigal and Wangal lands. My practice is one of intersections - between story and sound; between performance and protest; between embodiment, queerness and the sacred. I graduated from the University of Sydney in 2020 with a Bachelor of Music Studies (Composition) and Bachelor of Arts (English and Studies in Religion). I am deeply interested in what it means to belong in our bodies and to community, and the power of language and naming, of music and rhythm, in creating connection.
I am an actor, writer, and theatre maker born and raised in the US. I trained at Seattle Central Community College, The University of Newcastle (Australia), and have a Masters in Ensemble Theatre Making from Rose Bruford College (London). As an artist I am drawn to work that explores the minutia of being human, parsing it out and dissecting it to search for some semblance of truth or meaning. As a person, I am often filled with longing. Longing for connection. Struggling with loneliness. Finding solace in how commonplace this struggle is while acknowledging the uniqueness of my experiences.
I am a visual artist and writer, who combines text and textiles to speak to themes of political and personal significance. Through the tactile and meditative process of hand-sewing, I aim to create work that provokes change in me as I work and the viewer as they explore the artwork. The theme of belonging and how it relates to mental health is something I have personal experience with, and I aim to bring hope through my creative practice to show belongings’ significance in the mental health journey.
While a musician in my childhood, I am more recently a poet. My love for language and literature emerged in my twenties as I scuffled with questions on purpose, faith and meaning. Through studying Theology along with participating in church and art communities, I have found belonging through local encounters, gifts of grounding inviting me to look and to listen. Even as I discover limits in language, the crafting of poetry helps me to practise looking and listening, welcoming connections that remind me of a kind of harmony: we see, hear and share meaning together.
Shelley Van der Werff
I am a music maker of stories, singing, playing my guitar and writing of trees, family; songs of hope to mend fragile hearts and climate change. I weave my lived experience of health & well-being from my own and family experiences, drawing from work as an occupational therapist in the community supporting people manage chronic health issues as they navigate their lives. I am grateful to connect with other music makers & creatives who help me grow & develop in Melbourne. I am grateful to my family who support me in what I want & need to be.
I am a photographer with a background in theatre and a heart to explore themes of faith and justice. Recently I've been using techniques from both spheres to create dramatic and emotionally engaging images. I often find myself in spaces that are not my comfort (belonging) zone, whether it be because of my faith, creativity or professional & socio economic circumstances. I have seen how it affects my mental health and wanted to engage with this theme to ask myself and others what it would look like to find and create a sense of belonging in any space. Is it possible?
I am a decendant of Wakka Wakka peoples. A Mother. A daughter. A Sister. A friend. A story teller. I have lived most of my life in Kau’in Kau’in (Redcliffe) on Gubbi Gubbi Country. My voice and my strength I carry through my art. I paint, based on my experiences. My visits to country, my visions of country. An intuitive style, guided by the voices of my ancestors. I immerse myself in culture and community and continue to learn everyday. Painting has been my voice, during times I have been silenced. An outlet for my personal pain and grief, but also my strength and courage.
I am a collector, a curator, a weaver and a maker. My art-making starts with spotting something beautiful, or something that could be a frame for other beautiful things, and finding a way to assemble something new. Provenance is important to me - I like to use materials I have a connection with or know the story of. I try to use natural fibres sourced from my garden and found objects, salvaged to make something new. The concept of art as belonging feels like a natural extension of this – different stories being woven together into something new.
I have been painting riverscapes for 4 years and explored how my inner life has an intersection with the earth. I intentionally spent hours by the waterway absorbing the spirit of where I live. By witnessing the rising & falling of the sun, by observing ebbs & flows of atmospheres & how this affects the colours & moods of the river, is mesmerising & helped to
integrate me with the environment. Recently I have been studying figure painting. This has influenced my direction. I painted a portrait of belonging to ourselves, with a hand to heart in inner reflection.Titled ‘Self Belonging’.
I am a session musician, songwriter and educator. Almost all of my songwriting work has been in the folk/singer songwriter arena. However, with most of my professional playing experience being in the jazz industry, I’m heavily influenced by a lot of those harmonic devices and ideas. I wanted to examine the topic of ‘Be-longing’ using textural and harmonic ideas, as well as collaborate with other session musicians to capture an emotion that is either entirely familiar or entirely unexplored for the listener.
I am a trumpeter, flugelhornist, vocalist, composer, bandleader and educator living and working on Gadigal and Wangal lands. I'm passionate about making music that fosters joy, community and accessibility. Having lived with clinical and social anxiety for almost a decade, and having supported friends and family through their own struggles with mental health, I believe in normalising talking about mental health across all demographics. I'm looking forward to listening, learning and being part of the Conversations.
I am an artist working within the performing arts, driven by a deep passion for creative expression and the transformative power of the stage. Over the past 15 years, ACAC has become my artistic home, providing not only support for my endeavors but also a sanctuary for collective growth and resilience. As I navigate the complexities of our changing world, I am acutely aware of the climate change impacts on mental health. Through my work, I aim to shed light on this pressing issue, using the stage as a platform to provoke thought, ignite conversations, and inspire connection as a path for action.
I am a musician and songwriter creating within the genres of traditional folk and pop music. In my work, I explore themes of isolation, the separation between the natural and "human" world, the concept of Australian identity and connection to place, mental health, mythology and history. I also write about climate change and how we are responding to this immense crisis as it unfolds before us, with the goal of inspiring people to feel empowered to take action, and/or to feel through their feelings. I feel that music is a special and sacred space to exist and work within.
I believe in the therapeutic benefits of engaging in the expressive arts for healing, well-being, and knowledge of self and others through the consumption and making of art. As an art psychotherapist, I have experienced the power of bringing art materials into the therapeutic space for making sense of the world, reawakening the mind and body connection and exploring alternative communication pathways between self and others. As an illustration-based artist, I love the challenge of instilling complex concepts, ideas and emotions into a two-dimensional image. I have enjoyed exploring and reflecting on "belonging" through the intersection of art and science.
I am an artist working across multiple media (watercolour, acrylic, silk, mosaics), and enjoy exploring the boundaries and possibilities of each. 'Belonging' resonates with me on many levels. We each want to be able to be our own authentic selves, whilst feeling held and supported by community. Belonging is not the same as fitting in, cutting parts of ourselves off to fit into a mould, but rather finding a village that suports us through life's up and downs. A sense of belonging to place and people is essential to our wellbeing and mental health.
I have been acting and directing since the early nineties when I joined Electra Theatre Company touring Children's Theatre and Shakespeare. With a particular interest in Verbatim theatre, my written work seeks to explore the connections between individuals and community; family and commonality; and the way we seek to fulfil the inherent desire to belong.
I am a multifaceted artist: sculptor, land artist, and painter, driven by the magnificence and splendour of creation. This energy manifests in various forms, highlighting environmental responsibility, prophecy through art, and promoting social justice. I work primarily in fine Australian timber, bronze and fire and have exhibited my work in exhibitions in Australia and internationally. The concepts of be | longing and mental health are very immediate and raw to my family and myself, experiencing the ongoing rollercoaster of emotional and mental distress and trauma. Engaging to manifest these into physical forms and converse with others in a safe space is so therapeutic.
I am a visual artist, creativity coach and teacher. I have found that engaging in the process of artmaking can be an incredible source of healing. My art studio is my sanctuary and I love sharing it with others who long for the space to ‘let go’, connect with, and explore their own creativity in a safe space. In the words of Brené Brown “we are hard-wired to connect with others”. Through my art, I want to contribute with other artists to the conversation around belonging and connection and how this impacts our mental health.
(he/him/his) I'm a LGBTQIA+ visual artist who creates illustrations, paintings and installations. I’m interested in this theme as a transgender person exploring what belonging looks like for me in my own body and wider society. I work as a graphic, web and motion designer and love incorporating design principles into my art. As a devout introvert I enjoy thinking deeply about the world, philosophy, humans and emotions and representing that physically in art form.
I am a ceramic trained expressive artist, my works range from the dark & shadowy to the intensity of the outback in full sun. I am a figurative expressionist, I seek to portray the beauty of the raw & the worn from a figure / land based context I am drawn towards the possibility of the merging & obscuring of division. It is with sadness that I conclude that the places created to be one's of safety & community are the same places that break & haunt.
I am an enthusiast photographer looking to engage with the idea of people in a community finding a sense of belonging in a place, such as Newtown Mission, while at the same time the place itself finds a sense of belonging in the community it is in.