The healing effect of art at Alma Street Centre

Artist Andrew Britton, who won the annual exhibition’s major award last year, says he feels calmer when he is creating.  Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au   d444213
Artist Andrew Britton, who won the annual exhibition’s major award last year, says he feels calmer when he is creating. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au d444213

MENTAL health services have been operating out of Fremantle’s Alma Street Centre for years but there are few in the community who know, or understand, what happens behind those doors.

The Fremantle Hospital staff are looking to change that and bring the issue of mental illness to the forefront during their annual Open Minds Open Doors exhibition, which will be held at the Alma Street Centre from October 5-16.

The exhibition is a collection of artwork created by people living with a mental illness, their carers or those who work in the industry.

Gosnells artist Andrew Britton knows firsthand the positive impact the exhibition can have on people with mental illness, having taken part last year and winning its major award with a ceramic sculpture piece.

He said artistic expression had the ability to heal or calm people with mental illness.

“When I can touch and feel the material in my hands, it is actually quite meditative,” he said.

“I become a lot calmer and a lot more engaged with the material, rather than when I am doing all the thinking that goes into the planning of a piece.”

Exhibition organiser Anne Oliver said it was important to encourage those living with mental illness to work towards a significant goal.

“It provides an opportunity for people living with mental health issues to express themselves and share their experiences,” she said.

“The event is good for the artists, but it is also good for the community – it aims to raise awareness of mental health and to reduce stigma surrounding mental health.

The Fremantle Hospital Ladies Auxiliary has donated the $1000 first prize for the 2015 exhibition.