Taree art group scores prize in creative competition

By Natalia Carozzi, 25 July 2019 , Comments

For the last four years, a weekly art group has been taking place at Northcott Taree as part of our Everyday Life Skills service. Recently, the group’s hard work paid off with our customers taking out a top gong in a local art completion. To get the low-down on the competition and what the group enjoys about the art class, we spoke to Sue Sutherland, our resident art teacher/artist/support worker in Taree, and customer Jackie.

Early this year, participants of the Thursday Art Group, together with support worker, art teacher and artist Sue Sutherland, decided to enter the ‘Re-Imagine Waste’ art competition as part of Envirofair, an annual event held in Taree to raise awareness of environmental issues and inspire people to embrace sustainable ways of living.

To be part of this competition, entrants were asked to create an artwork using items that were destined for the rubbish or had been used before.

Our Taree Thursday Art Group entered the competition in the open section category with a sculpture called ‘Earth Landing Module’. “We came up with the idea for the sculpture by looking at the objects that we had around that we could use. I had pruned a tree in my backyard and we had made a giant weaving tepee in the past, so we started with the triangle base shape”, says Sue. “As it was taking shape we realised it looked like the moon landing module and we had a discussion about how we could make an Earth landing module. Each person brought in some objects that would have been thrown away that we could add to the piece.”

Much to the surprise of participants, the Northcott group scored first prize in their category, winning $500 which will go back into purchasing art and print making supplies. Winning the prize presented a great opportunity for these artists to show what they do, and share their story with the Manning River Times.

Our customer Jackie has been member of the art group since the very first day. “I love it. It gives me a chance to do more art, other than only in my one-on-one time. I just love art, even when I think I won’t like some stuff I still give it a go,” Jackie says.

“I think it’s excellent that we won the prize and I was quite surprised: it was really good. Our next project will be to get some more supplies with our prize money, and start on the lino cutting thing [lino printing].”

With customers of differing abilities and interests participating in the art group, the work they do includes observation, colour mixing, brush and pencil skills, experimentation with ideas, methods, techniques and materials and some art history to make it interesting. As part of their sessions, Sue teaches a range of techniques such as painting, sculpture, clay, papier mache and drawing.

While the Re-Imagine Waste competition was the first time the Thursday Art Group had entered an art contest, the participants are very experienced at showcasing their work. For the past three years, participants have entered the Brushes with Life exhibition, and sold several pieces there. Brushes with Life is held during mental health month and participants include people who live with mental health issues as well as relatives, friends, carers, mental health professionals and people with a general interest in art and mental health. Northcott’s group has also displayed and sold artworks at the Red Dove Café, a local café in Taree, over the years.

Sue says the customers enjoy the weekly art class for many different reasons. “Each person is encouraged to give it a go, try something new and to find their own unique style. The group has a lot of fun and most of the people are now able to recognise each other’s styles. Apart from working on their artworks in the centre, the group sometimes has outings to local exhibitions and galleries, and often turn experiences outside the centre into ideas for art sessions. Several people have goals specific to learning art and developing art skills; other people have goals specific to social skills, getting out and about and having fun.”

Winning the prize isn’t going to stop this group as they have many more projects planned for the rest of the year. Print making is their next major project and they are also working towards creating paintings and drawings for this year’s Brushes with Life exhibition.

Related content

We love what our customers achieve through artistic activities; check out Helene’s story.  

Want to learn some new skills or just have fun and meet new people? Check out our Events page to find out more about our Skills 4 Life, Saturday Teen’s Club and Adult Recreation programs.


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