Art the bedrock for Narelle to rebuild

Narelle working on her artAfter relocating to a small town in southern NSW, a change in Narelle’s health brought her career to a halt, resulting in disability and isolating her from her community.

To keep mentally active and busy Narelle spent her time fostering her love of art and craft, but she felt isolated and disengaged from the outside world. After reaching out for assistance, Narelle was referred to Ability Links to access supports and engage with her community.

A Linker met Narelle and discussed her dreams and ambitions for the future. Narelle said she wanted to share her artistic passion and regain her sense of self-worth but was unsure how, so the Linker helped her develop and run workshops for people with disabilities. 

Narelle starts each workshop with the command: “Leave your disability at the door - you are now artists!” With such a positive environment, the workshops have been well attended and very successful, and in late 2016 Narelle was honoured with the International Day of People with Disability Award for Arts and Community Service in her region.

Buoyed by this, she began exhibiting her works in regional towns and has since become an established regional artist, continually challenging herself with new artistic directions. This led her to develop her own Facebook page – ‘Less 2 More Creations’ – and she told her Linker that “for the first time in years, I feel alive and electric”.

Narelle has also recounted her personal journey in a book entitled “Landscapes of the Heart and Mind – My journey through disability and art” (available on amazon.com).

Armed with a Mental Health First Aid course and understanding the mental health impacts of drought in farming communities, Narelle has now created ‘Art Relief’.

This program offers free art workshops for drought-affected communities that includes a focus on mental wellness. Narelle said she wanted to “provide something that will have no financial impact on the day-to-day living for people within our farming communities during severe hardship”.

Narelle’s personal growth has been remarkable, affirming her purpose in life. She is determined never to let her disability get in the way of promoting her art or offering classes for all abilities, and she is forever grateful for the support and encouragement of her Linker.