The Art Of It - Narelle’s Story

Narelle at her art class with paint brush in hand. Teacher in the background holding red and yellow water paintingArt has always been a passion of Narelle, but after relocating to a regional town and needing to leave work due to her mental health condition, Narelle felt she was unable to do the thing she loved most.

After being referred to Ability Links, Narelle told her Linker that she felt isolated and disengaged from the community.

Together the Linker and Narelle sat down to explore Narelle’s aspirations, resulting in a suggestion to run art classes for other people with a disability in partnership with local Regional Arts Board; South West Arts.

As a result of this conversation, the Linker set up a meeting with the Regional Arts Board who agreed to run a series of art workshops, led by Narelle, for people who live with a disability and are socially isolated.

Narelle told Linker “for the first time in years I feel alive and electric” and she buzzed with excitement.

Narelle told the workshop participants her personal story and the barriers she had faced in her life as a result of her disability. They listened intently, and related to her challenges. Narelle explained how she self-taught art, developing her own skills and techniques, and her belief that everyone has the ability to produce work that is admired and appreciated. She then informed the students to “leave your disability at the door- you are now artists.”

Narelle’s confidence and sense of self-worth has grown tremendously, and believes that despite her disability, she now feels she has purpose in her life and an important role in her community.

By the end of the session, participants were excited and chatty, and very proud of their achievements. Afterwards, students remarked how much they enjoyed the session and would like to continue. Narelle said that conducting the workshop was “soul soothing” and felt like she has some “value in this world”.