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Local artist leading lockdown with an online arts club

Art therapy
Art therapy leaves for hope
Art therapy face masks

Even the most amateur artists among us have turned to art to keep distracted during lockdown.

But for local arts therapist Bronwyn Napiorkowski, art has been a therapy to help community members get through the dramatic events of 2020. From the bushfires to COVID-19, she’s used art as a gateway to help with mental health and to create positive imagery over social media platforms.

Bronwyn ran an online arts club as part of Council’s Senior’s Week festivities. These sessions begin with a short conversation followed by a mindfulness activity, before introducing the art element.

Bronwyn has a Master’s Degree in Arts Therapy and over the period of restrictions, her client numbers increased due to more people experiencing mental health issues.

She called herself lucky to be able to practice her profession face-to-face.

“Being able to support people in their home has been really good,” Bronwyn said.

“I pinch myself that I have a job where I go and sit with people and support them making art. It can be really confronting and challenging at time, but it’s a beautiful way to be able to support people.”

“My role is more about supporting people in a really challenging time. A lot of people really enjoy art and find it’s a great way to engage with another person and in a different form of communication,” Bronwyn said.

“Just being able to put a smile on their faces once a week and checking in is where it’s at.”

Bronwyn’s arts club evolved from a program she developed in response to the bushfires of last summer. With her parents living near Bega, a town heavily impacted by the bushfires, Bronwyn and a friend started collecting and decorating leaves with messages of hope, which were then posted to social media.

“My year started with the bushfires. I wanted to provide a creative outlet and create imagery for social media, because all the imagery was quite dark,” Bronwyn said.

“We decided to call it Leaves for hope.”

Bronwyn ran five pop-up workshops in local parks to get community members involved in decorating their own leaves, also encouraging donations to the SES. The last workshop was held at the Seven Sister Festival, one of the last public events before COVID-19 lockdowns.

“It was where the bushfires and COVID-19 combined,” Bronwyn said.

Once lockdown hit, her focus turned away from the Leaves of Hope workshops and instead towards mental health during isolation.

Bronwyn has also made 1,000 facemasks which she is selling at local cafés.

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