A push for a Ballarat street art project has gained a mental health ally.
Paul Hartwood from Mind Australia Ballarat firmly believes street art can help some of its clients dramatically improve their lives.
The proof is in the pudding with Mr Hartwood’s client Tom thriving while doing a Wendouree wall mural with Ballarat street artist Cax.
Tom, now in his early 20s and who did not wish his last name used, has suffered from drug induced psychosis and schizophrenia for the past few years but is also a street artist of 10 years standing, mainly in Melbourne.
“I’ve known Paul through his mental health work and he found out I’d done graffiti,” Tom said.
The pair was then put in touch with Cax, who approached Howitt Street business owner Peter Corboy of Shepp Cannery Surplus to use one of his walls for a colourful mural.
“The whole thing was just really good. I loved the spirit of it and the having fun,” Tom said, pointing to a self-designed tattoo on his forearm as further examples of his work.
Cax said the Wendouree wall – which is also home to a mural of the City of Ballarat’s three Greens candidates at the last council election – was one of the “few nice long stretches” left.
“We need spaces where there are no expectations and we can do what we want. There’s definitely a lack of that in Ballarat. They want quality artwork but they don’t give us the practice spaces to get that good.”
Late last year Ballarat City councillor Des Hudson called for community consultation over a street art project similar to the highly successful Benalla Wall to Wall Festival, which has seen 28 new murals appear on blank walls around the town.
Cr Hudson plans to raise the issue with the first meeting of the council’s public art advisory committee.
Cax said the pair took five hours over January 10 and 13 to complete the mural.
“There was no art direction as such. It was purely up to the artist.”
Mr Hartwood said the communication between Tom and Cax was great to see.
”Seeing Tom thrive as a part of the urban art culture has sparked a new interest in me to advocate alongside Cax around the community discussion to support the Ballarat street art project.
“Tom has really achieved something big here working alongside Cax and what he would really benefit from now is for the (Ballarat City) council to approve ‘practice walls” for the urban artist group to continue supporting Tom.”
Mind Australia Ballarat works to improve its clients mental health and quality of life.
For further information, contact Mind Connect on 1300 286 463 or the Carer Helpline on 1300 554 660.