THE audience at the sell-out event for the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery’s Why Children’s Art Matters heard from a thought provoking panel that called for more children’s art in public places and emphasised that art is a safe and easy way for children to express themselves.
The event featured a talk by Australia’s leading voice in children’s art, Dr Barbara Piscitelli AM.
“Outside the home and school, children’s art is invisible.
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“We need children’s art in more public places, to talk about children’s ideas and listen intently.”
On the panel, Art Therapist Dr Emma Gentle, said children can pour their difficult emotions into their art and by exhibiting their work, the public bears witness to their stories.
“We don’t often get to understand those inner worlds,” explained Dr Gentle.
“Art is in and of itself therapeutic, and the making of art can make a huge difference in people’s lives as they’re getting their internal stories out.”
Friends’ of the Gallery President and family lawyer, Heather McKinnon, said the event highlights the need to send the message to young people and decision-makers that culture matters, not just sport.
“I spent the week in Family Court dealing with children with the worst type of trauma and now to hear some solutions of how we can support kids through art,” Heather said.
“The children of Coffs Harbour need a safe place to make, learn and talk about art and the planned Cultural & Civic Space will provide this with a better equipped Regional Gallery.”
Dr Piscitelli said, “Every picture a child makes does not need to be of a happy childhood.
“It’s important for us to pay attention to what they have to say, and the safest and easiest way is through their art.”
Some audience members had the experience of seeing children’s art used for therapy and healing through the Bushfire Recovery Project which was for local Orara Valley students to express themselves through artwork after going through the evacuation from the Liberation Trail Fire.
By Sandra MOON