Harnessing the healing power of art

Creative space: Tufuga Arts Trust, Otara, Auckland

Tufuga Arts Trust, a creative space in Te Puke Otara Community Centre in South Auckland, offers two art sessions a week for people with lived experience of mental ill-health.

Trustee Jenny Aguilera and George, an artist at Tufuga Arts TrustFormed in 2004, the trust wants to move into bigger premises where it could be open five days a week and include more arts activities.

There are seven members on the trust, including Jenny Aguilera and Colin Wallace, who started the art group in Otara in 2001 and have been trust members since 2004.

For Jenny, an occupational therapist in Community Mental Health at Counties Manukau District Health Board, it’s all about harnessing the healing power of art.

“When I come here, I see people wanting to get out of bed. I see people thinking about creative ideas. I see people developing into artists and some selling their work. And I see people enjoying the social activity.”

Addressing inequity in the arts

Fellow occupational therapist Natasha Keay is Chair of the trust. “Tufuga aims to address inequity in the arts. Our vision is to provide a supportive space for artists to explore their creative interests. Everyone has a valued place in society.

“I have no background in art but I constantly see the benefits of engaging in the arts, and the positive social interaction and sense of belonging they can provide.”

Gina, an artist at Tufuga Arts TrustThe 15 to 20 people who attend the sessions work on individual projects, supported by facilitators. They work with a variety of media, including acrylic and watercolour paints, pastels, pencil, collage and mosaics.

Trips are also offered to local museums and art galleries, along with organised sketching trips.

The trust has held four group exhibitions. The most recent was Lotus in Bloom, which opened during Mental Health Awareness Week in October 2015.

“The artists feel empowered and included, and proud that people can see their work on the walls.,” Natasha says. “Many of the artworks are sold, with the artists gaining financial reward and recognition.”

Paki, an artist who attends Tufuga Arts TrustIn the past, Tufuga has also collaborated with the local NGO Framework Trust, whānau and the wider community, to produce a pantomime.

“All the shows had full houses,” Natasha says. “They were a great opportunity for families to come along and see the confidence growing in the performers, who developed various new skills.”

Counties Manukau District Health Board supports Tufuga Arts Trust by enabling its five facilitators, all employed by the DHB, to facilitate the sessions. However, it has to apply for grants to cover the cost of materials.

“Our goal is to secure a facility that is open five days a week for people in the community, particularly people who live with mental ill-health.”

For more information please contact:
Natasha Keay
Chair, Tufuga Arts Trust
T: 09 265 4000 (ext 4087)
M: 021 804 963
E: natasha.keay@middlemore.co.nz

Last updated 11 December 2015






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