From March – December 2020, Reverse Garbage artist and educator Fiona Arnold ran a series of workshops with Burwood Council and Metro Assist to empower members of the community to build up their skills and create art. Participants and their carers worked together to learn and build using reuse materials that they can find at home. I sat down for a chat with Fi about her experience leading this workshop series and exhibition.
Participants grew their skillset week after week, starting with basic weaving and moving through to learn principles of shape, light, colour, medium and form. Using calming and repetitive techniques, as well as forming a community through art, everyone left “so hungry for the next activity”.
Over time, participants and carers became more and more confident in their skills to work as a team. By providing support and guidance in a joyful and creative space, Fi showed how art improves people’s concentration.
Using all reuse materials participants and carers improved their community and built agency in tackling environmental problems.
At the end of the sessions, Metro Assist put on an exhibition to showcase the weaving, collages and jewellery that participants had made over the weeks. Although the initial plan to exhibit the works at Burwood library was not possible, an online exhibition cemented the achievements and hard work of the seven weeks. As Fiona put it, it wasn’t seen as the ending of the program but something “others can use as a beginning”. It was a great opportunity to build community and create art and joy while learning new skills.