APM celebrates artists with disability

Published on 15 Oct 2020

Artist Mandy White at the APM Fremantle office launch party

Art as both a creative outlet and as a rewarding career pathway for people with disability is being showcased by APM.

The initiative recently kicked off with a launch at APM’s office in Fremantle, south of Perth, highlighting unique artworks created by artists who live with disability.

The launch was opened with a Welcome to Country speech by Noongar elder, and APM staff member, Cheryl Taylor.

Cheryl emphasised the importance of art in her speech and the significance it plays in people’s lives.

“We are here today to see the beautiful artwork the artists have provided. We have always needed stories in art to help us through and show us the passing of time,” she said.

“Storytelling in art is an ancient craft. It takes an extraordinary eye to see the world as it is and capture it in this way so it will live on in our memories.”

Western Australian visual artists Greg Barr, Mandy White and John Verjans were celebrated at the launch.

The artists were presented with certificates of appreciation before joining with invited guests and APM staff for morning tea.

Artist John Verjans is pictured sitting beside his artwork

Representatives from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), DADAA, Artsource, CircusWA, Access Housing, Fremantle Mens Shed and As We Are also attended the event.

Greg Barr is a Ballardong Noongar man and his work 'Kwilana' is a bold, blue tribute to the dolphin. The word kwilana means dolphin in the Noongar language.

Mandy White is from the Yamatji and Noongar communities. Her artworks reflect the tales of bush creatures told to her by her mother and grandmother. Her displayed painting is a vibrant representation of these themes.

Artist John Verjans’ work features large paintings of mesmerising land and sea scapes. His work 'The Rocks' is an awe-inspiring example.

Works from local artists Desmond Woodley and David Tilbrook were also displayed.

The mayor of Fremantle, Dr Brad Pettit, presented the certificates to the artists commending their work.

“This is a very Freo event, in the best of ways, bringing together the things I love about Fremantle as place that has a great focus on the arts, we are a city that does artistic and creative endeavours really well, and we are inclusive,” he said.

“This is a wonderful collaboration.”

Attendees at the art launch event at APM Fremantle office

General manager of APM Communities, Jason Diederich said it is very important for APM to support emerging and established artists by displaying their creative works and sharing their journeys.

He hoped this would inspire other people with disability to venture into the visual arts if this was their passion.

“This artwork enables visitors to our offices including people with disability and their families to be inspired by local artworks and to realise they too could make art if that was something they were interested in,“ he said.

APM Communities team collaborated with local community groups, including local government, to foster inclusive and accessible environments. This included making local events and activities to be more inclusive and accessible as well.

There was two important parts to the work done by APM Communities for people with disability.

The first was encouraging NDIS participants to consider including community participation goals in their plans because it such an important capacity building step for them. For example, these goals could be arts or sport related.

The second was to ensure community groups and clubs in the local area were welcoming and supportive of new members with disability.

“That’s the other part of the equation and it is fundamental to work of our LAC Community Capacity Builders,” he said.

“My background is in occupational therapy and we know making art can increase wellbeing and self-esteem for people with disability.”

He commended both the work of CCB Gina Knight for her work in making the initiative a success and the featured artists’ creative efforts.

Artworks created by local artists significant to areas serviced by APM Communities will be displayed in site offices nationally.

As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.