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HOW ART IS MAKING ME BRAVE

By | Art, Disability, Lifestyle

I am not a particularly practical person. If something breaks or stops working around my house, I contact the real estate  so they can send someone to fix it for me. If my computer plays up, I call one of the IT techs at Guide Dogs so they can talk me through the process of fixing it.

In the last two or so years I’ve been a part of Art Mania however, there has been a shift. As part of the creative process, I’ve used drills, hammers, saws and more. Inside I was quivering as I tried each of these things for the first time.

I was elated when I successfully threw off that fear and achieved my goal.

This has made me a braver person. It does on occasion worry others, but I’m taking control and completing tasks around my home now that I never thought I could do.

Why am I writing about this today? Because for the first time ever, I fixed a blocked sink without any help. Well I did get help to know what to do and to purchase the product I needed. After that though, I was on my own, and I know I wouldn’t have done that if it wasn’t for all of the firsts and goals I’d achieved as part of the Art Mania family.

Perhaps I could try cleaning out the gutters next … only joking! … maybe …

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: JHARNA

By | Art, Lifestyle

Jharna started at Art Mania in the mosaics class last year. She wanted to volunteer at the studio and from this, gain a job. Her role is floor manager and as of last week, teacher’s assistant for the Wednesday morning mosaics class.

You may not realise it, but you have probably met Jharna as she quietly goes about her work. Jharna is the kind of person that everyone needs to know.

She is always happy, always ready to offer a helping hand, and has a fantastic sense of humour.

Jharna is also one of the NDIS participants enrolled in our Business Development Support program. She is busy getting a body of work together for her first solo exhibition. Jharna mainly works with mosaics and drawing. This exhibition will be at the Hunter Wetlands Centre in September.

In her own words: “I am so happy to be working here with such amazing staff”.

She describes the studio as “a beautiful environment” and she loves all of the areas of art available at Art Mania. She “wants to try them all.”

Jharna with some of her mosaic works at an exhibition.

Jharna embodies the ethos of Art Mania. With her openness and generosity, she both wants to learn and offer support and guidance to others. We are incredibly lucky to have her as part of the Art Mania family.

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: CHERYL

By | Lifestyle

To say that Cheryl’s role at Art Mania is simply admin, is a huge understatement. She is one of the rarely seen, but crucial members of the Art Mania team. It’s Cheryl who does all the fiddly stuff!

In her own words, Cheryl describes her role as: “in administration- training admin staff; back-up if front desk needs manning; creating the flyer; and overseeing the rolls and organising paperwork.”

Cheryl believes in Art Mania’s motto “this is your happy place” and believes that it is possible to see this in action for both our students and staff.

To Cheryl, Art Mania is a warm, caring and supportive place for all. Cheryl is a great example of this. She is always smiling and offering happy and genuine words to both staff and students.

Cheryl has a background in admin and enjoys making organised and efficient admin systems to help with the day to day running of organisations. We were lucky enough to gain her services when her daughter Jen first joined the Art Mania team. Cheryl had retired and was looking for some volunteer work. She decided to come work at Art Mania with her daughter. And even though Jen has moved on, Cheryl has chosen to stay on.

Until recently, Cheryl’s grand-daughter Ellie was also a regular part of the Art Mania family. She took part in our weekly kids class. Cheryl also works with her grand-daughter, helping her collect cans for cash. They have a box set up at the studio, where you can put your cans knowing that they are helping a resourceful girl to make a bit of money.

When asked how she felt about Art Mania’s ethos, she replied: “These are also my values, so I enjoy ‘walking my talk’.”

Digital Accessibility Day

By | Disability, Lifestyle

This week on the 20th May, we celebrated Global Accessibility Day. A day to focus on the digital access world for people with disabilities.

It would be easy to assume that the digital world has made it easier to access resources, information etc for those with a disability. And in many ways it has been a big improvement. When Apple started building accessibility features into their products, it revolutionised the way various disability groups communicated with one another and the world. As a person with a vision impairment, for the first time I didn’t have to pay an extra $500 to make my phone talk and read the various screens and information.

Abstract digital image- a picture of a face with hands held together to make the shape of the face. Light is coming out from the face and a rainbow of colours striped across the image.

Similarly, until recently, to be able to use a pc, I had to pay several thousand dollars for a “text to speech” screen reader. In the last couple of years, a couple of guys who are blind themselves created a screen reading program and made it available to everyone. They only ask for a donation of however much you can afford. NVDA is the program and I love it.

Between my phone and my laptop, I have pretty good access to the digital world. The only major ongoing issue, is when material is put in electronic format as an image. Screen reading software reads text, hence the name text to speech.

If material has been uploaded as an image, my screen reader will see the page as blank.

Sam looking at the camera, wearing a black beret and dark coloured cardigan.

We have definitely come a long way. And all of this technology has made it possible for me to get work. It is because of the technology I have, that I can write these posts and other content for Art Mania. I even have software on my phone that will describe photos, scan and read hard copy printed material and help me identify products by reading the qr codes.

I still get frustrated at times. It can be exhausting having to convert materials. I do however, realise that I’m very lucky.

The digital world is making life easier and allowing me to participate even more in the everyday world.

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: KIM

By | Art, Lifestyle

Kim joined the Art Mania staff last year. She teachs our kids classes, including pottery for kids and teens.

How did you come to be at Art Mania Studios?

Kim “I first joined by taking a pottery class on a Saturday afternoon, and it all started from there.”

Kim is one of the bright flames that light up the weekend group. Always happy, always ready to offer a fellow student a helping hand when needed. And often laughing, as much at herself as at anything going on in the group. Kim has worked as a primary school teacher and in the foster care system. She was often working with and supporting children with special needs and this is one of her passions.

How do you see yourself fitting into Art Mania’s vision?

Kim “I consider Art Mania as a family- supporting everyone who joins the various classes. And I’m a part of that. I also bring an Indigenous perspective to our programs.”

Kim is also an indigenous woman. She brings that uniqueness into our team. This enables her to teach the children many things about her culture, making our team even more skilled and diverse.

She describes her family as one that have always supported her to do whatever she’s wanted to achieve in her life.

She is a huge fan of squirrels, despite having been chased out of a London park by a vengeful pack of them.

Kim is also into all things Disneyland.

Next time you see Kim, feel free to say hi and ask her what her favourite Disneyland character is!

International Guide Dog Day

By | Disability, Lifestyle

The last Wednesday in April is International Guide Dog day. A day to celebrate the work that our incredible four legged friends do for us every day. It’s also a day when the Guide Dog association focuses on a particular issue specific to guide dog teams. This year, it’s responsible pet ownership.

One of the biggest issues for a guide dog team is having to deal with pet dogs off-leash.

From just not leaving the guide dog alone while they are trying to work, to attacking and potentially injuring a guide dog. Sometimes these injuries are enough to mean the guide dog has to retire due to a complete loss of confidence. Most guide dogs in Australia have been attacked by a pet dog at some stage of their working life. Of my five dogs, Aimee is the only one who hasn’t been attacked, fingers crossed it stays this way. My two previous male dogs were seriously affected from their attacks.

Isis, who was never a particularly confident dog, would drop to the ground and refuse to pass another dog, even on leash. Roscoe became combative. Whenever he was in harness and saw another dog, he would bark and try to dominate the other dog. It became dangerous for both of us. Me because he would pull me nearly off my feet. Himself because he tried to attack other dogs, by running across roads.

All we guide dog handlers ask is that you keep your dogs on leash. Don’t allow them to stray across in front of a guide dog team.

This can very easily lead to the handler tripping or smashing into an obstacle that the guide dog wasn’t able to warn them of due to the pet dog. Please remember that when a guide dog is in harness, they are working and can’t play or be played with.

I’d like to finish this post by acknowledging just what my guide dogs have given me and enabled me to do.

Thank you to Vishta. Who was stubbon and bossy and constantly wanted to be the one in charge. Thank you for giving me the ability to take full control of my life and to be truly independent. I would not have even thought to move to Melbourne if you had not been my partner.

To Isis. For showing me the meaning of true loyalty. You were always trying to live up to your role. Even though you really didn’t like being a guide dog. And you became one of the best pets as therapy dogs ever (yes I’m biased).

To Geralee. My gentle, placid girl. You kept me calm when anxiety would start to set in. You were the best friend I needed.

To Roscoe. For arriving in my life just when I needed you. For enabling me to recognise my depression and to speak up and ask for help. For always knowing when I was down and making me laugh. And for giving me the confidence to change my life for the best, twice.

And to my beautiful girl Aimee. You are giving me the confidence to get back out into the world. Just knowing I’m not alone, that I have you beside me, makes me brave enough to go after what I truly want.

If it wasn’t for these five friends. I don’t know if I would have found Art Mania. I wouldn’t have become such a strong and independent woman. Happy international guide dog day. Or in this house, happy Aimee day.

-SAM OGILVIE

Just BecCause Fundraiser

By | Art, Fundraiser

“Bec was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer at the age of 14. She endured many hours days and weeks in hospital having chemo treatment. Bec had an inspiring sense of humour.  She rarely complained and kept on smiling through the pain and sickness. Bec smile was infectious! You couldn’t help but smile along with her.

After having a good response to the first year of treatment, Bec went onto maintenance treatment,  which meant she continue her treatment at home, less time in hospital and could start to resume some what of a normal life.  She started to attend school again, went to the movies and hung out with friends again. Her hair started to grow back and she felt much better. 4 weeks prior to completing her treatment, Bec relapsed.

Bec would relapse for a second time, being deemed incurable. Bec had a big heart and wanted to help other kids beat the fight with cancer. In 2017, she started a fund raiser she called “Just BecCause “.
Bec had an artistic sole. She loved to draw and paint. She was good at it, so when Fee from Art Mania Studio approached her to do an resin art piece to auction at her fund raiser, well Bec jumped at it!

Art Mania Studio generously, donated time, supplies and lots of fun energy to Bec and her cause.
She raised $10,000, $1,000 of that from the auction of her special art piece,  for research into finding a cure for kids cancer. Bec added this money to a crowd funder she headed raising an amazing $38,000.

Heartbreakingly, my beautiful Bec earnt her wings in December last year after a  three and half year courageous fight. One of Becs last wishes was for us to continue with her legacy and hold another “Just BecCause ” this year. She wanted to raise money for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital. Becs way of saying thank you to the staff that became family and supported and cared for her. And to help the kids fighting their own battle with cancer.

Art Mania Studio still remain one of “Just BecCause ” biggest supporters, this year agreeing to go one, two, three, four steps ahead.  Fee has again generously donated her time, expertise and fun spirit. We have 4 amazing young adults that have agreed to come together with Fee to create not 1, but 4 beautiful resin art pieces, in memory of Bec, to auction. I cannot tell you how very grateful I am to Fee, and these four superheros to step up and support Becs cause!”

Bec’s Mum

Just BECause is an event that is close to our hearts here at Art Mania Studio.

We’ve been doing all we can to help Just BECause raise funds for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital. This year’s special event will have Raffles, Auctions, Stalls & Shaves, all to fundraise for the fight against Children’s Cancer.

For more info & updates join our Facebook event

We’d love to see you there!

Sunday 28th July 2019, start 11am
Colliery Inn
87 Cowper St, Wallsend

Just BecCause

By | Art, Fundraiser

“Bec was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer at the age of 14. She endured many hours days and weeks in hospital having chemo treatment. Bec had an inspiring sense of humour.  She rarely complained and kept on smiling through the pain and sickness. Bec smile was infectious! You couldn’t help but smile along with her.

After having a good response to the first year of treatment, Bec went onto maintenance treatment,  which meant she continue her treatment at home, less time in hospital and could start to resume some what of a normal life.  She started to attend school again, went to the movies and hung out with friends again. Her hair started to grow back and she felt much better. 4 weeks prior to completing her treatment, Bec relapsed.

Bec would relapse for a second time, being deemed incurable. Bec had a big heart and wanted to help other kids beat the fight with cancer. In 2017, she started a fund raiser she called “Just BecCause “.
Bec had an artistic sole. She loved to draw and paint. She was good at it, so when Fee from Art Mania Studio approached her to do an resin art piece to auction at her fund raiser, well Bec jumped at it!

Art Mania Studio generously, donated time, supplies and lots of fun energy to Bec and her cause.
She raised $10,000, $1,000 of that from the auction of her special art piece,  for research into finding a cure for kids cancer. Bec added this money to a crowd funder she headed raising an amazing $38,000.

Heartbreakingly, my beautiful Bec earnt her wings in December last year after a  three and half year courageous fight. One of Becs last wishes was for us to continue with her legacy and hold another “Just BecCause ” this year. She wanted to raise money for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital. Becs way of saying thank you to the staff that became family and supported and cared for her. And to help the kids fighting their own battle with cancer.

Art Mania Studio still remain one of “Just BecCause ” biggest supporters, this year agreeing to go one, two, three, four steps ahead.  Fee has again generously donated her time, expertise and fun spirit. We have 4 amazing young adults that have agreed to come together with Fee to create not 1, but 4 beautiful resin art pieces, in memory of Bec, to auction. I cannot tell you how very grateful I am to Fee, and these four superheros to step up and support Becs cause!”

Bec’s Mum

Just BECause is an event that is close to our hearts here at Art Mania Studio.

We’ve been doing all we can to help Just BECause raise funds for the John Hunter Children’s Hospital. This year’s special event will have Raffles, Auctions, Stalls & Shaves, all to fundraise for the fight against Children’s Cancer.

MAKE A BID JUST BEC-CAUSE
* 2 Family Go Kart Passes
* Resin Art Pieces
* A weekend away for 4 at Windsor Edge Estate
* Framed Women’s Jet Jersey
* Esky filled thanks to Tooheys
* & much more!

Live entertainment after with TIMELESS.

For more info & updates join our Facebook event

We’d love to see you there!

Sunday Sep 16th, 11am – 4pm
Lemon Grove Hotel
112 Nelson St, Wallsend