News

Offering support through art

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Art is playing a role in easing the stress on farmers in southern New South Wales.

A series of art classes has provided relief for farmers, impacted by drought and poor water policy.

They are being run by Narelle Whitham, the founder of Art Relief, which has been running sessions in Deniliquin and Moulamein and is delighted to announce that more classes will be rolled out across the region.

‘‘Drought and poor water policy impacts all the community, and the frustrations and worry for our food producers has flowed on to inspire local artists,’’ Narelle said.

‘‘The free art relief workshops help provide an outlet for people — including those on the land — and can help them deal with mental health issues.’’

Narelle said she and other artists have been inspired by the plight of our farmers. She has used art to overcome personal challenges and experiences and says it’s ‘‘a great way to get you through tough situations’’.

She believes art can play a crucial role in dealing with mental health, which is why she started the organisation Art Relief.

Classes are held fortnightly at South West Arts, 122 End St, Deniliquin, and at the CWA rooms in Turora St, Moulamein.

However, Narelle wanted to expand the work she was doing and help more people, so she sourced funding to fulfil her dream of providing more free workshops across drought-affected communities.

She was delighted when South West Arts became the auspice body for a successful funding application through the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network’s ‘Empowering Communities Program’.

As a result, a further 40 workshops will be rolled out in towns across the region.

‘‘I am absolutely delighted that more people will get the benefit of relaxing through their artwork,’’ Narelle said.

‘‘I’m looking forward to helping farming communities through this program and seeing them inspired by art. No experience is necessary.’’

Narelle’s art, which includes a series inspired specifically by the drought and the efforts to instil more balance in the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, are on exhibition at the Peppin Heritage Centre in Deniliquin until July 30.

For more details about Art Relief, contact Narelle on 0428188773, or email willowstarhawk@hotmail.com. Narelle can also be followed on Instagram, @narelle—whitham, or on Facebook via Less 2 More Creations.