Mural transcends mental illness

Maria Breene and the group at the launch of the mural.
Maria Breene and the group at the launch of the mural. John Gass /TWE310112mural

THIS mural is a metaphor for what those with mental health issues can achieve personally and collectively when working together.

It is also, literally, a symbol of On Track Community Programs consumers' concern for their natural environment.

It was unveiled today at Connections House, Tweed Heads South, by art director Lorraine Abernethy, house co-ordinator Wayne Moore, consumer Maria Breene and many others.

"All our little bits on the mural represent a positive image that relates to living on the Tweed," Ms Abernethy said.

"Because it's very colourful, we wanted it to inspire that wonderful feeling of being in the garden.

"I like to feel that we have our rainbow there because I like to think of the art inside as our pot of gold."

She was not sure about the angel at its top and centre, until a consumer said she was the angel, "watching over us all".

Those with, and who have recovered from, mental health problems enjoyed a lunch while and after the mural was unveiled.

2011 was a fantastic year for Connections' consumers, Mr Moore said.

"The mural was planned and initiated by our consumers, among themselves, and we really value your input because that's what directs our centre," he said.

"The mural has made a positive impact among our members.

"I personally would like to thank everyone for putting in, and now we can move on to our next goal, though I'm unsure what it is."

He said member meetings each Wednesday set the direction of Connections projects, and the next could be an Indigenous theme painted on the property's fence.

"We develop social and community skills here, and set people up with TAFE and other training.

"It's all about breaking the cycle of chronic mental illness."

Ms Breene said she was honoured to be a part of the mural's creation.

"So many of our consumers are represented on this wall," she said.

"It's going to be a place to remember when we return in years to come to see our artwork.

"We can just give it a go here, and not be scared it won't be good enough for anyone, because it's our place and our work."

Ms Abernethy is also co-owner of Kingscliff's pop up Art Space K Gallery.

She said she had worked with consumers at Connections for about 12 years "encouraging and supporting their creative journey to wherever it may lead".

"In 2011 we started creating a mural to cover the outside wall of the art room.

"The inspiration for the mural was to give as many of the participants a chance to be part of the overall design and ownership of this positive image.

"My role was to coordinate and complete the final design of the mural using all of the contributed drawings that represent living at South Tweed Heads, by the river.

"We are all very proud of the final result, as it is a very colourful and positive mural depicting the diversity of our local area," Ms Abernethy said.

Visit for more information or to learn more about Ms Abernethy.

Topics:  mental illness mural

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