Art cen­tre cred­ited for ther­a­peu­tic work

Central Leader - - NEWS -

An arts cen­tre ded­i­cated to help­ing those with dis­abil­i­ties par­tic­i­pate in creative en­deav­ours has been hon­oured.

Spark Cen­tre, a creative space in St Lukes, was last night pre­sented with Arts Ac­cess Aotearoa’s Big ‘A’ Creative Space Award 2013 at a cer­e­mony in Welling­ton.

This year the Spark Cen­tre is of­fer­ing 12 art pro­grammes for peo­ple of all ages and with di­verse dis­abil­ity and im­pair­ment. This in­cludes peo­ple with cere­bral palsy, the ef­fects of strokes, brain in­jury, deaf­ness, im­paired vi­sion, autism and in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity.

The pro­grammes pro­vide learn­ing in art ed­u­ca­tion, art prac­tice and art ther­apy. The cen­tre of­fers a sense of com­mu­nity and pro­motes self-de­vel­op­ment through the ve­hi­cle of creative ex­pres­sion.

Judges de­scribe Spark Cen­tre as ‘‘an in­no­va­tive, inclusive creative space, which trans­formed it­self to re­spond to the di­verse needs of its com­mu­nity. As well as de­vel­op­ing valu­able part­ner­ships and pro­grammes, it also presents or par­tic­i­pates in a se­ries of exhibitions through­out the year.’’

Spark Cen­tre di­rec­tor Suzanne Vesty says its ex­ten­sive ex­hi­bi­tion cal­en­dar also pro­vides artists with the op­por­tu­nity to present their work to the wider com­mu­nity.

‘‘For the artists, the goal of ex­hibit­ing their work pro­vides them with mo­tiv- ation, mean­ing and pose,’’ she says.

‘‘Staff here are com­mit­ted and pas­sion­ate art en­thu­si­asts. They are skil­ful,

pur- ex­pe­ri­enced and qual­i­fied in what they do.

‘‘We all take great de­light in wit­ness­ing the growth of peo­ple who at­tend our clas- ses, both as in­di­vid­u­als and as artists.

‘‘Re­ceiv­ing the Big ‘A’ Creative Spa­ces Award is an ac­knowl­edge­ment of both the staff and our artists.’’

Those who use the cen­tre say it pro­vides a won­der­ful out­let and a break from some of the daily tri­als of life.

Auck­land artist Pearl Schom­burg, di­ag­nosed with rheuma­toid arthri­tis 23 years ago, say it of­fers more than art ther­apy. It has given struc­ture to her life, an out­let for her emo­tions and cre­ativ­ity, and a place to in­ter­act with like-minded peo­ple.

She is one of around 125 artists who par­tic­i­pate in the art pro­grammes of­fered.

‘‘For ev­ery class, the artists come through the door with big smiles on their faces. For some peo­ple, in­clud­ing me, it’s the high­light of their week,’’ she says.

Ad­just­ing to liv­ing with chronic pain was very dif­fi­cult for Pearl and she even­tu­ally be­gan ex­plor­ing ways of ex­press­ing her frus­tra­tions. Three years ago she re­alised art was the re­lease she had been search­ing for.

‘‘Noth­ing hurts when I do art,’’ she says.

Photo: STRUAN PUR­DIE

Creative out­let: Helina Janiszewska works on her lat­est art­work at Spark Cen­tre as the cen­tre’s fund­ing co-or­di­na­tor Donna Jaser watches on.

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