by John Moyle
The ArtHouse Hotel in the CBD is hosting an art exhibition with a difference: all the works are by injecting drug users who are clients of the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting centre in Kings Cross.
This is the eighth year that the exhibition has been mounted and the second year that it has been hosted by the ArtHouse Hotel after out-growing its original space in the Kings Cross Neighbourhood Centre.
“The reality of the service we run is it’s known for one small aspect of what we do, and that one small aspect is injecting drugs,” Dr Marianne Jauncey, medical director, Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre said.
“In fact, the real work that makes a difference is transforming people’s lives and forming a connection with a person and them seeing themselves in a different light.”
On show will be 130 works which are all for sale to the highest bidder via a timed silent auction open until 2 October.
“For all the art works that are sold 100 per cent of the money goes to the artists,” Dr Jauncey said.
“It is quite humbling when you see people’s faces when they have been told that they have won a prize or that one of their works has sold.”
“It’s a simple piece of validation in the life of someone who has not had a lot of external validation.”
The online catalogue can be downloaded by going to Uniting’s “Art From the Heart” site.
The show was officially launched 1st September at the Wayside Chapel by the City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore who said “The record number of artists involved in ‘Art from the Heart’ this year shows that the program has an enormous and positive impact for its participants”.
“I believe that we are all talented in some way and it’s just a matter of being free and brave enough to try different things,” an anonymous Uniting MSIC client said.
Despite its clear positive impact on the physical and social health of its clients, and in helping remove sharps from the streets of Kings Cross, the centre and its clients still come under opprobrium from some in the community.
“We view people through a focused lens that sees people first as drug users and it is a reminder to us to shift that lens and look at the person, and see that what they can give us back through their art is so much more than their drug use,” Dr Jauncey said.
The exhibition also attracted input from some of Sydney’s top creative agencies such as advertising agency DDB, who produced the branding to promote the event and Sweeney Advertising who organised the billboards.
“We work closely with the marketing team at Uniting throughout the year, and seeing how hard this team works on this event each year we threw our hat into the ring,” said Clinton Kay, senior executive of Sweeney Advertising.
The billboards can be seen at Kings Cross and Erskineville stations.