Encounters between mental health and art

Belconnen Arts Centre 10 September 2018 1


Joyful Swimmer (2018) by Vijaya Sen.

Joyful Swimmer (2018) by Vijaya Sen.

Like so many of history’s most celebrated artists, Vijaya Sen is deeply affected by the trials and tribulations of life. Her ability to navigate the everyday can be severely compromised and is an ongoing challenge for her as both an artist and a mental health consumer; it is also what makes her upcoming solo exhibition Encounters such a significant personal achievement.

Since being introduced to watercolour painting at three or four years of age by her father, also a gifted artist, Vijaya has found her visual arts practice to be a source of expressive relief, solace and meditation. With the recent passing of her father, Vijaya has returned to the medium that connected them and for which they shared a love.

Self Portrait (2018) by Vijaya Sen.

A freshly completed Self Portrait (2018) by Vijaya Sen.

Skilfully applying watercolour to light pencil sketches, her use of colour is deft, with brilliantly intense pure hues balanced by carefully mixed and applied chromatic greys and earthy tones. “I enjoy the medium of watercolour for its unique spontaneity and its careful and detailed use. I try to express a mood,” Vijaya states. This fastidious balance is perfectly depicted in her works for Encounters, with light and environment conveyed beautifully, from moments of quiet contemplation to lively cafe montages inspired by the Sydney suburb of Newtown. It’s easy to see Encounters as a tribute, reflecting on supportive and inspiring personalities or familiar places.

Supported by Tilly Davey from Hands On Studio at M16 Artspace and IGNITE: Alternative Arts Academy at Belconnen Arts Centre, Encounters will sit proudly on display in the foyer of the Ann Harding Conference Centre at the University of Canberra from 17 September until 11 December 2018. University staff and students and members of the public are welcome to attend an afternoon tea with the artist to launch the exhibition, from 3 pm on Tuesday 18 September 2018 in the foyer of the Conference Centre.

The long-term project of developing a body of work for Encounters has enabled Vijaya to centre her energies and maintain a positive frame of mind. Often relegated to the realm of hobbies, visual arts practice is increasingly being recognised for its ability to offer refuge and provide equilibrium to the lives of those who have experienced mental health issues or trauma; the launch event and exhibition will be an affirmation for Vijaya, an opportunity to see the fruits of her labours and the realisation of her creative vision.

Written by Ann McMahon and Skye Rutherford.

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