Using art to break the drought

By Country News

Art is playing a role in easing the stress on farmers in southern NSW.

A series of art classes run by Narelle Witham, the founder of Art Relief, has provided a break for farmers impacted by drought and water policy.

Sessions have been held in Deniliquin and Moulamein, and Mrs Witham said more classes would be rolled out across the region.

‘‘Drought and poor water policy impacts all the community, and the frustrations and worry for our food producers has flowed on to inspire local artists,’’ she said.

‘‘The free art relief workshops help provide an outlet for people, including those on the land, and can help them deal with mental health issues.’’

Mrs Witham said she and other artists had been inspired by the plight of farmers in the area.

Mrs Witham said she had used art to overcome personal challenges and experiences herself, and it was ‘‘a great way to get you through tough situations’’.

She believes art can play a crucial role in dealing with mental health, which is why she started the organisation Art Relief.

However, she wanted to expand the work she was doing and help more people, so she sourced funding to fulfil her dream of providing more free workshops across drought-affected communities.

She was delighted when South West Arts became the auspice body for a successful funding application through the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network’s Empowering Communities Program, which is funded by the Federal Government.

As a result, a further 40 workshops will be rolled out in towns across the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network region.

‘‘I am absolutely delighted that more people will get the benefit of relaxing through their artwork,’’ Mrs Witham said.

‘‘I’m looking forward to helping farming communities through this program and seeing them inspired by art.’’

Classes are held fortnightly at South West Arts, 122 End St, Deniliquin, and at the CWA rooms in Turora St, Moulamein.

■For more information about Art Relief, phone Narelle Witham on 0428 188 773 or email: [email protected]

Mrs Witham can also be followed on Instagram @narelle—witham or on Facebook via Less 2 More Creations.