Ballarat Community Health's new tapestry designed and stitched by work for the dole participants

Stitched together: Architect and artist Tereasa Kenny stands with the textured tapestry 'The Journey' which she designed. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
Stitched together: Architect and artist Tereasa Kenny stands with the textured tapestry 'The Journey' which she designed. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

A colourful tapestry with links to the regions history will now brighten the day of those in drug and alcohol programs in Ballarat.

Created by work for the dole participants, ‘The Journey’ represents the pathway out of drug and alcohol addiction, with symbolic depictions of the city’s landscape. 

The tapestry is the brainchild of architect and textile artist Tereasa Kenny. Working with Envision Employment’s textile team, she created a design and blueprint for the mural. 

When she arrived two months into the project, she said “nothing much had been done” and she felt empowered to produce a better piece of art. 

“The next day I walked in with a new design and everything planned, ready to go,” she said. “The original concept was about the journey to recovery from addiction, so that’s stayed.”

“But everything in the artwork is actually a representation of something from the original drawing. Instead of being all words, its a little more subtle and a cohesive piece.”

The completed tapestry now hangs on the wall of Ballarat Community Health’s Victoria Street location, which facilitates drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. Coming in with few sewing skills, work for the dole participants used embroidery, appliqué and quilting technique to make the 3D tapestry come to life. 

The project’s supervisor Kath Taylor said that finding fabric for the project was its own challenge, and Envision Employment had to cast the net wide. 

“We made a contact with a lady in Buninyong who was closing down one of her shops, so we travelled up there to get the material and brought it back,” she said. 

“We also contacted friends and relatives and talked to anyone we could, just putting the call out for material that way.”

Following her involvement in the program, Ms Kenny has started a new job working as an architect in Daylesford this week. 

“It was something slightly left field, but still artistic,” Ms Kenny said. “It was great to see people with no sewing experience walk away going, ‘oh my God, I can sew!’”