Survivor finds solace in creating artwork

Peter Blenkiron describes his photography exhibition as an emotional journey made up of fragments of complete darkness and moments of light.

POWERFUL: Ballarat clergy sexual abuse survivor Peter Blenkiron is showcasing his photographs for the first time at the upstairs gallery of Boah Organic. Picture: Kate Healy

POWERFUL: Ballarat clergy sexual abuse survivor Peter Blenkiron is showcasing his photographs for the first time at the upstairs gallery of Boah Organic. Picture: Kate Healy

Judy Courtin, Andrew Collins, Vanessa Beetham and Peter Blenkiron. Photo: Craig Holloway

Judy Courtin, Andrew Collins, Vanessa Beetham and Peter Blenkiron. Photo: Craig Holloway

The clergy sexual abuse survivor unveiled his exhibition Putting The Pieces of Self Together One Moment at a Time at Vox Populi Art Gallery, upstairs at Boah Organic at the Bridge Mall on Friday.

The former Ballarat electrician describes the impacts of his complex post traumatic stress disorder on his mind as being like a “blown electrical circuit”. 

Each image offers a rare glimpse into the inner world of a child abuse survivor learning to re-inhabit his body and mind.

With the guidance of his counsellor and from behind the lens of his smartphone he started taking photographs as form on mindfulness and solace. 

“The central message of it all is about the damage done to the Ballarat community,” he said. “The Survivors of Suicide group continue to pick up the realities.

They are working at the coalface with kids who have lost parents and families who have lost loved ones as a result of past trauma.”

Mr Blenkiron said it was also about exposing the ripple effects of the abuse which continued to impact Ballarat.

“it’s not just a soundbite, it's a horrific consequence happening right across our community,” he said.

“It presents itself in many different ways, from premature deaths, to anger, mental health issues.. there are so many facets.

“But once we start to count that ripple effect, we can start to shift it, and create a positive ripple effect of hope by supporting people and urging them to reach out for help early.”

Among the most harrowing moments of the exhibition are Mr Blenkiron’s deeply personal video diaries from his trip to Rome to witness Cardinal George Pell’s evidence to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.

Mr Blenkiron’s childhood friend Vanessa Beetham is the curator of the exhibition.

At the heart of it all, is their pursuit to stop the suicides and premature deaths linked to sexual abuse and mental health issues.  More than $7500 was raised on the opening night.

A raffle of one of Mr Blenkiron’s photographs is being run throughout the exhibition to raise money for suicide prevention. Tickets cost $50 each and all proceeds will go to the Ballarat’s Survivors of Suicide.

Putting The Pieces of Self Together One Moment at a Time will be at the upstairs gallery at Boah Organics, 100 Bridge Mall, Ballarat until November 6.

The gallery is open every Monday from 9.30am until 3pm, Tuesday to Friday from 9.30am until 5.30pm and Saturdays from 10am until 4pm.

Entry is free.

For details, call 5333 3720. To contact the Centre Against Sexual Assualt, located on the corner of Vale and Edwards streets, Sebastopol, call 5320 3933 or free call 24 hours 1800 806 292. 

Lifeline: 13 11 14.