Tena koutou katoa, Nga mihi nui ki nga tangata whenua, ko Taranaki Whanui. He uri ahau nō Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Rangatahi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa. He mokopuna ahau o te whānau Skipper. Ko Deidre Mereana Dahlberg ahau. No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.
My name is Deidre Dahlberg and I am honoured to represent the artists, staff and volunteers of Pablos Art Studios, both past and present, who deserve this recognition for 24 years supporting Wellington’s community members. Thank you, Arts Access Aotearoa, and the Holdsworth Trust for presenting us with the Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award 2017..
Affirming identity through art … This is Pablos’ mission statement.
Pablos as you may know is an art studio with an attached gallery that provides free creative services to people who have had lived experiences of mental ill health. Individuals who visit our space find an environment that is friendly, open, easy to use, and one that values and caters to their individual needs.
Focus on creative pursuit
As a person begins their journey at Pablos, they are mentored to self-determine their creative path. Step by step, that person can focus on their creative pursuit, facing challenges and growing their confidence, learning their talents whilst leaving their struggles outside our doors.
At least for a little while.
Eventually, those little whiles become longer whiles until one day they can look back at their journey and recognise that they are talented and valuable, and they can deal with the issues they left at the door and in fact, those issues are now a lot less significant than their own self-worth.
Art claims identity
Why art? Art affirms the identity of all of us in society – whether fashion, film, plays, writing, music, sports, advertising, cultural festivals … Every single element we see around us uses art to claim identity. Pablos uses art to help individuals do the same for their own identity and hopefully then, they too can connect with their community more.
Who are these individuals? All of us are! All of us have mental health and all of us can be affected by a change in our circumstances – an accident, an impairment as a result of getting older, a trauma from bad experiences. You may be homeless; you may be burnt out from work or study; you may have been diagnosed with depression as a result of child birth or grief; you may be a traumatised soldier, or a survivor of domestic abuse; you may live with a physical or intellectual disability that has caused mental distress. You may be a former refugee or a former prisoner wanting to change your life but finding it hard to escape devastating memories.
Model of healing
It may be any one of you out there worried to the point of needing help. Pablos has helped thousands of people lost between the health system and their community. We are not the only NGO that has found a positive model of healing that works. There are others we work with and together, we provide choices for those who need our help.
Choices are what we all deserve. Just like the garment in the clothing store that is labelled one size fits all, we all know that the label isn’t true. Many of us cannot fit into that garment. The same can be said for our health services. No one type suits all, we need diversity in our choices. We are equal as human beings but diverse in our experiences and needs. I would encourage our government to remember that when they make their choices. Kia ora!
Deidre Dahlberg is the Director of Pablos Arts Studios, a creative space in downtown Wellington. You can read a profile of Pablos Art Studios.