We offer this blog as further space for conversations about the arts and health – for swapping news, ideas, experiences and inspiring examples from practice and research.
The blog is hosted by La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, because the four initial editors are staff members here. It is an outcome, in a way, of the arts and health search conference Evidence in a Different Form that La Trobe sponsored in Bendigo in November 2013 that drew together artists, managers and policy makers, researchers, art therapists and arts and health practitioners primarily from Australia. (An account of this search process is given in the Journal of Applied Arts & Health 5:2). Despite this local base, we hope to be joined by people from many different places (practitioners, researchers, citizens) who are interested in the impact of the arts on the health of individuals, organisations and communities.
As an Art Therapist I witness the impact of art in health as I have been privileged to offer specialised support services for people to honour and reflect on life and death experiences. As an artist, the creative process is a means for me to explore questions of meaning and existence. In working with art and people over many decades I have become very aware of the capacity for art to nourish our spiritual health and well-being. I am currently working on my PhD, which is a Studio Based Theological Inquiry into ‘Healing Art and the Art of Healing’.
Exploring the effect of the arts on human experience on psychological, emotional and social levels has been an enduring factor in what has made life meaningful for me. For over a decade now I have enjoyed the work of an academic teaching and coordinating the Master of Art Therapy at La Trobe University. I am keen to support the opening up of communication between art therapists, arts and health practitioners and artists with other health care professionals and people who find meaning in the particular perspectives and ways of knowing that the arts facilitate.
My interest in the arts and health comes in part from using arts-based and action methods in my work as a teacher, counselling psychologist, family therapist, leadership consultant and counselling educator. Now I supervise higher degree research and collaborate in arts-based inquiries. I take photos as a way to express and process my experience, and see lots of possibilities for researching lived experience through representing it to deepen our understanding and conceptualizing.
I’m interested in care – how it’s offered, received, experienced, structured, distorted – and how in turn this relates to health, let alone the whole business of being human and making meaning. Clearly the arts are pivotal in mediating and representing these aspects of personal and social life. I’m interested particularly in contexts where issues around care are thrown into sharp relief, end of life situations in particular.