A major project to create a city-wide memorial to survivors of sexual assault took another huge step on Friday, with the announcement of the teams of artists who will collaborate on the responses.
The Continuous Voices initiative, supported by the City of Ballarat, has selected five initial creative participatory projects that aim to include survivor's voices in the eventual design of a permanent memorial.
The projects cover a range of mediums, from photography and songwriting, to visual arts and sculpture, to encourage different responses from the community.
Geoff Hassall, George Williams, and Paige Duggan will hold a series of workshops for survivors and their family members, to create a spoken word music video.
"George and I met working on a program called Life Is A Song, which was a workshop series since 2016, songwriting for people with mental health issues," Mr Hassall said.
"We're getting the band back together for this, because our experience with that makes us really enthusiastic to do something in this context, it's just good working in that way with people."
"You're not focusing on a problem, you're focusing on a creative process that you're doing together, and making something - that's a completely different way of working together, and we love doing that work," Ms Williams said.
"In regards to this project, which has all these different layers, we thought we could contribute something meaningful with that work."
Eliza-Jane Gilchrist is an artist who uses cardboard to create participatory sculptures - her 'Thinking About Memorials' workshops will allow survivors and the community to process what they want to see.
"We're going to use (cardboard) to make little maquettes of designs that could be enlarged, and also devising ways of engaging people in some participatory way," she said.
"It's a nice way of getting some feedback from the Ballarat community about just opening the topic, and it's an opportunity for the survivors to get their ideas in some sort of tangible form, then have that dialogue with the Ballarat community, and feel the community is hearing and understanding and acknowledging that experience."
Rebecca Russell, an artist with a lived experience of sexual abuse, will lead an experimental look at reacting to art, with a somatic therapy psychotherapist.
"I'm working with a group of survivors - we're going to be experimenting together through a process of viewing art, noticing what's going on in our body, then drawing, and trying to find commonality and connection through our shared experience regardless of our individual story," she said.
"We'll be working with a sound artist and a visual artist, who'll take all the drawings and create an installation."
Michelle Dunn's Finding Light project involves teaching participants about photography, aiming to create an exhibition and photobook.
"I'll be teaching participants about light, and how to see things differently when we understand the way light falls on an object - we start to see the world around us very differently, and in some ways it's a way to shift your mindset," she said.
"Looking around, I know a lot of these artists and their quality of work, and their natures, and these are the right type of people to be leading survivors through trauma and recovery in really creative ways, or in different ways that people haven't broached before."
Voices Like Yours will be a collaboration between Robert House, Kaff-eine, Glenn Pearce and James Money, examining symbols submitted by the community, which will be 3D printed for use in a sculpture.
"I don't usually work with other people, we work separately but the ideas will come from the three of us for this project - it'll be interesting to see the end result, we've all got different styles," Mr Money said.
"It's doing something that actually means something, not something that's about nothing," Mr Pearce added.
"I'm better known as a street artist, but I do installations, and I'm an advocate, I use my art for advocacy," Kaff-eine said..
"Sexual abuse is something that's hidden, spoken about with shame, and all that does is perpetuate a power dynamic that has got to change, and it starts with this - it's fantastic."
Mr House said Ballarat was "the frontline" in social change.
"There couldn't be a better place for (a memorial) to be than here, especially around the history of the Catholic Church, and the response they'd put on all around the world is worth challenging," he said.
"There's no better place to challenge that response."
All artists have been trained in Trauma Informed Principles and both artists and participants will be supported by the Centre Against Sexual Assault to create a safe space for participants throughout the delivery of the workshops, according to the City of Ballarat.
Council's public art coordinator, Kate Gerritsen, said ideas had been worked on since a community reference group was formed last April, with the Ballarat and District Survivors Group, the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA), Loud Fence, Care Leavers Australiasia Network, Compassionate Ballarat and other survivors and advocates.
"The premise is that it's for all survivors of sexual assault and abuse, so it covers a lot of different parts of our community," she said.
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"From April, the community will get to see smaller exhibitions start to be held at ArtSpace Ballarat on Lydiard Street, and at the Art Gallery of Ballarat from May.
From there, after all the projects are finished mid-2021, we'll be seeking a memorial designer, who'll work with all the concepts that have been come up with, and then we'll get into developing a memorial."
To find out more or join a project, visit creativeballarat.com.au/continuousvoices
Affected by this story? There is help available.
You can phone the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, in Sebastopol, on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292.
Or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380, or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277.
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