Birds of South East Queensland

As an emerging artist fresh out of art school, I was stoked to receive an Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) grant in 2021 thanks to Arts Queensland and the City of Gold Coast.

My journey began whilst completing an artist residency at the Hand Bent Banana Arts and Health Centre(HBB) in 2020. As luck would have it I was kindly offered mentorship in grant writing by Dr Karleen Gwinner the founder of the Centre. I was using the art studio at HBB, whilst studying a community art unit in my final year of a Visual Art Degree through the University of Canberra.

Coincidently I had just met Jeff Cheyenne the community arts director for Hands on Art (HOA) where Karleen had worked as a workshop facilitator in the 90s. In retrospect, this was a auspicious moment that has given my creative career a sense direction in such uncertain times.

In writing the grant I discussed opportunities with both organisations. Through the establishment of a partnership with HOA and HBB I was able to establish a pilot citizen science-art workshop programme for children which was adapted from the Birds of Brisbane workshops run by HOA. The goal was to expand the workshops with a focus on Birds South East Queensland and deliver quality art activities that contribute to creative conversations about conservation in South East Queensland.

Undertaking the project during the pandemic certainly threw a lot of learning opportunities into the mix. Covid restrictions meant that the project was delayed and other setbacks meant the delivery of the project had to be redesigned. Working closely with Jeff and Karleen the project was delivered to students at Ingleside State School. Ingleside is a small school nestled in the Hinterland environment along the Tallebudgera Creek.

A collaborative mural was created with the students to enhance a disused space ready to become an outdoor learning room for the school. It was an exciting project for me as I had never painted a mural before- nor facilitated 24 children to help paint it. I had great support and a fab team helping me :)

Sharing science knowledge and applying an arts approach to nature conservation was a big hit with the school. The students were immensely proud of the finished mural as am I.

- Tiarna Stevenson

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This week I am beginning my journey as an Intern with Hand Bent Banana Arts and Health Centre. I am excited to be able to explore creative and healing practices through the activities and programs that the Centre offers. This opportunity will provide me with hands on experience to plan and facilitate therapeutic workshops, and develop psychoeducational resources for wellbeing. I am very much looking forward to expand my network within the arts, health and wider communities and learn more about the grants.

I am at the end of my second year of the Bachelor of Art Therapy with Ikon Institute. An amazing path of self-discovery, insight and healing. I am learning much about therapeutic processes and healing properties of creative arts through safe and supported facilitation processes.

As a Team Leader in finance for the state government, I was officially recognised for supporting staff, receiving awards for ‘Focusing on our People,’ and ‘Partnerships and Connections’. I realised then, that I could make a difference in the wider community. I started my educational and creative journey by working in early childhood care and dabbled in my own artistic and mindfulness techniques at home. I saw creativity and exploring nature as key to strengthen trusted relationships, building confidence, independence and joy in the children. So, when I discovered the Bachelor of Art Therapy Course, I saw the chance to work towards an incredibly rewarding future in community services, combine my passions, needs and strengths together with a thirst for knowledge as an Art Therapist.

Over these next 12 weeks of practicum with Hand Bent Banana Art and Health Centre, I have an opportunity to put my studies into practice, through group work, community engagement and sharing these experiences with others on an academic level.

I’m honoured to have the guidance and support of Glenda Needs as my Practicum Supervisor and Karleen Gwinner as my workplace supervisor and mentor.

At the end of my work placement experience, I expect that I will be better able to identify the needs of a community/group, and plan for therapeutic approaches and art modalities to meet these needs. Reflection of my experience and evaluation of the workshops will provide me with valuable knowledge and insight on my future practice as an Arts Therapist. Over the coming weeks I will keep you dear reader, posted as to what I learn in this blog. Stay tuned and stay well.


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