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Arts Access at FAC: Artwell

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Artwell Program at FAC

Artwell provides access to the arts for people in the community whose lives are directly impacted by mental illness. Artwell facilitator, Peter Fanton, gives an insight into this important program.

Art Connects!

"Creativity incites, invites and ignites a shift of energy within me. Shifting energy elevates my senses and consciousness towards awareness, which then allows a different filter by which I may ‘see differently’, to discover new possibilities, meaning, choices and purpose.  Felt senses, feelings and emotions become agents, both receptors and inductors in relationship with energy. They inform me of the spirit of things.

The knowing found through the sense of the ‘spirit of things’ certainly seems to be part of the search for meaning. I think there is no doubt that it is a feeling, resonant sensing, and an intuition as to the nature and qualities of experiencing in time and place; especially the Present Moment. Sensing the spirit of things is a subjective form of knowing, a meaning arising through all of our subjectively experienced attentions to the encounters we havewith life forces and ways of knowing.

'The Arts’ occupy a special place in their presentations of spiritual and aesthetic qualities of feeling, and the sensing of the textures in our experience; that combine the essentials of human spirituality, always drawing us into the heart of human experiencing.”        


Artwell Program artworks The Artwell Program provides access to ‘the arts’ for both individual and collaborative art making experiences for people in the community whose lives are directly impacted and affected by mental illness. Artwell participants come from all corners of the community who are bravely challenging the common affects of isolation, alienation, discrimination, stigma, and significant psychosocial factors which often impede on their ability to feel connected, valued and worthwhile.

Whilst program organisers and facilitators acknowledge that mental health issues impact diverse individuals and groups across the community, including co-disability factors, Artwell is specifically designed to promote engagement for those in the community whose lives are impacted primarily by mental illness. 

Artwell participants are as varied and diverse in their individuality as any group within our community. Each participant has the opportunity within a professionally facilitated creative, safe and hospitable space, to discover, explore, and allow their art making to inform them about self, as well as self in relationship to the world in which they live. Artwell allows for multi-modal creative exploration of meaning making! The Artwell space is held in respect by qualified arts therapist and experienced  community volunteers.    

Each Artwell participant is unique, brave, curious and creative! They are also varied in their recovery experiences, and willing to navigate their present moment experiencing, via their passion and engagement in creativity. All participants also have access to learning new creative techniques and are invited to share their own capacities with others. Artwell participants create art which not only evokes, but evolves their capacity to represent themselves, therefore allowing their own voice to be resonant.  Participants also create alongside each other in co-creation; art making which allows space for shared perspectives, collaborative imaginings and narratives.  Artwell allows for each participant to create the colours of the own lives, where they can be unashamedly creative, colourful and courageous!  

Individuals are invited to engage in with the Artwell Program to allow them access to creative processes and art making. Access can be via referral and or support, from a mental health service provider or individual inquiry. Some participants access the program alongside their NDIS support worker, who is also encouraged to engage. Minimal fees apply for those who participate. All inquiries are via Cube 37, at Frankston Arts Centre.    

Artwell Program artworks Significant to the Artwell experience are the experiences of identity building, capacity building and connectedness. Artwell provides experiential learning in arts practice which is an evidenced-based affirmative approach. Art making provides opportunity for recovery aligned focus and well-being practices.  Many participants have benefited from their engagement in the Artwell program.  Artwell cannot be only defined as an arts access program, but more inclusively; a healing space! Artwell is an inclusive and enriching ‘space’ where participants of all abilities, including beginners, are respected and valued.

Evidence-based therapeutic arts practice underlines and cushions the Artwell experience. This allows for personal and collective experienced-based outcomes. Participants experience is often defined by improvement in their well-being, focus and outlook, cognitive and emotional capacities. Their experience of being in shared, creative, inclusive safe space, significantly improves participants confidence, including their capacity for effective communication with others. More specifically, some participants have commenced their Artwell experience presenting as isolated, unable to communicate with others and lacking significant confidence in their abilities. Through-out their time at Artwell, they have described exceeding their own expectations, as now they are better able to converse with others, co-create with others, share ideas and feel respected, accept respect via connectedness, and experience alignment with purpose and  dignity. Some participants commence their journey with Artwell only daring to use a lead pencil and paper, and now, are flourishing by expressing themselves using a variety of mediums, including the use of colour.  They are now able to express their feelings in a safe manner, utilizing the non-verbal realm of creative process to reach into and to share their experiences.

In conclusion, significant to the Artwell experience is the re-claiming of individual sense of self and self worth. Many participants have evolved in their recovery experiencing, re-claimed their voice and purpose, gained insight into their own meaning making, and importantly, had lots of encouragement and fun and a shared sense of humor along the way.            

Please note:  The Artwell Program is currently not running due to the temporary closure of Frankston Arts Centre in response to COVID-19. Our website will be updated here as soon as we know when classes can resume, so please stay in touch by checking the website for updates.

To learn more about the Artwell Program at Cube 37, please click here.

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