Funding Support Takes Manning And Great Lakes Mental Health Month Art Program To A New High

Mon Sep 12, 2016

A $3,000 funding arrangement with Regional Arts NSW has enabled the Manning’s annual “Brushes with Life” program to come back bigger and better in 2016.

Now in its fourth year, Brushes with Life involves a series of art workshops throughout the year, culminating in a public exhibition where some 200 pieces will go on display.

Involving more than 70 participants, the program has become a cornerstone of local Mental Health Month celebrations. It uses art as a therapy and a medium to draw attention to mental health, and encourage understanding of people who live with mental health issues.

Art enthusiasts from across the Great Lakes, Manning and other parts of New South Wales will gather in Taree for the four day exhibition which launches on Thursday 6 October.

Works include paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs produced at a series of local workshops facilitated by Brushes with Life’s artists and the event coordinator, Flourish Australia (formerly RichmondPRA).

Participants include people who live with mental health issues as well as relatives, friends, carers, mental health professionals and people with a general interest in art.

Twice as many workshops have been held this year, thanks to the new funding support.

“We are absolutely thrilled to receive a financial leg-up from Regional Arts NSW this time around,” Flourish Australia Coordinator Kirsten Olsen said.

 “This goes a long way to enabling us to buy equipment and attract expert teaching artists.

“It validates the success of the Brushes with Life program and takes the standard of art to another level.

“Brushes with Life started as just a loose idea in 2013, now it’s one of the premier regional mental health month events in New South Wales.”

Ms Olsen said art is a wonderful outlet for people with mental health issues to express themselves. It also encourages social participation and senses of wellbeing, whether you live with a mental health issue or not.

Supporters of the program include Manning Mental Health Service, Carers Assist, Phams, Subway, Uniting Church and Midcoast Council.

The exhibition runs from Thursday 6 October to Monday 10 October in Victoria Street, central Taree. The public are invited to attend the launch on Thursday 6 October at 5.30pm.

Anyone interested in producing art works or attending the exhibition can contact Kirsten Olsen on 0448 060 661.


Media outlets are invited to shoot exhibition participants working on various pieces, and conduct interviews.

WHEN: Wednesday 14 September or 21 September 2016, 10 am-11am

WHERE: Flourish Australia 80 Wynter St Taree


Kirsten Olsen – 0448 060 661
Matthew Watson – 0417 691 884

Flourish Australia (formerly RichmondPRA) is a not-for-profit organisation providing community-based support programs, employment, accommodation and hope for more than 5,000 people with mental health issues across 64 locations in New South Wales and Queensland. It has been in operation for more than 61 years.