This article was first published in Star Weekly – Sunbury & Macedon Ranges on 4 March 2022.
The streets of the Macedon Ranges have been transformed into the tranquil hallways of an art gallery, with four works dotted across the shire to encourage conversations about mental health.
Spearheaded by Macedon Ranges Suicide Prevent Action Group (MRSPAG) and funded by North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN), the artworks seek to help the community to practice self care, and to reach out when times are tough.
Artist and shire resident Fiona Farrugia has one of her pieces on display at the Coffee Corner in Gisborne and said she’s passionate about community care, infusing her wellbeing into her art.
“It’s often that I’m looking at my environment for my healing,” Ms Farrugia said.
“I get messages from the environment and I like to portray that in my artwork as well, to hopefully get that message out to other people.”
Located in Kyneton, Romsey, Gisborne and Woodend, the artworks feature a QR code to take viewers through to artist biographies and their experiences of mental health, as well as providing important information about local services, resources and training.
Chair of MRSPAG Steven Power said one of the main issues for the organisation during the pandemic has been delivering their community-facing work.
“This project gives us a really exciting opportunity to support some local artists and provide a bit of a visual message to help build community connections and acknowledge that for many people, they’ve really struggled through the pandemic,” Mr Power said.
“We’ve all been picking up different pursuits and interests, and art, for some people, is a great way to express themselves and make a contribution.”
Macedon Ranges has a higher suicide rate than the statewide average and Mr Power said MRSPAG is keen to champion these artistic messages of hope and recovery.
Other pieces include a multimedia installation at the Macedon Ranges Shire Council office in Kyneton by Aimee Thompson, a mural at Woodend’s Holgate Brewhouse by Mark Ingalll, and Lachlan McKenzie’s oil painting at Romsey Hub.
“I encourage the local community to see the four pieces of art that will be displayed until the end of March,” he said.
For mental health support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, or visit the The Macedon Ranges Suicide Prevention Trial Site website.