Guest Artist for August: Julianne Ashworth
The Healing Power of Art
By Margaret Vickers
When Julianne Ashworth addressed the August meeting (2022) of the Lane Cove Art Society she discussed the profound influence mark making can have on a person’s psyche. As a trained art therapist and counsellor Julianne’s journey uses the marks that people make to explore their feelings and concerns. Creating marks can be revelatory. It “externalizes what is internalized,” remarked Julianne.
Whilst currently working with all ages in the community, from preschoolers to aged care residents, as well as community groups. it is a path that is very different to her earlier career in the corporate world. Brand marketing and licensing was her focus for ten years. Family life brought a change of direction and a reassessment of her career path. As her children gained independence Julianne decided to follow a path that was aligned with her love of art. In fact, “the highlight of my week was attending my aunt’s art class.” Pamela Fairburn happens to be Julianne’s aunt! Running into a friend who had trained as an art therapist and sang its praises was the turning point for Julianne. “You would love it Julianne,” commented her friend. Fortunately, that sound advice was heeded and today the community benefits from Julianne’s work as an art therapist and trained counsellor.
“Art therapy is about the process not the end results,” said Julianne. It is a very non judgmental way of explaining feelings and concerns that people raise. Moreover, it is a powerful tool for connection. With absolutely no judgment every mark created is valid. “What lands on the paper is right for that person,” commented Julianne. Making marks “externalizes what is internalized.”
To facilitate the creative response Julianne uses sensory items that may trigger discussion and mark making. Transpersonal art therapy uses mindfulness, story telling and creativity to tap into the mind and body connection. Being a good listener is critical. Only then can appropriate responses be made irrespective of the size of the group.
In the field of art therapy the marks people make can act as a starting point for discussion. Julianne spoke about her work with refugees. From her comments art therapy is a much needed resource to assist in healing people. People can also get to know themselves better which may result in them following more fulfilling paths or finding ways to build resilience to cope with the everyday challenges that confront people.
The spontaneous discussion that followed Julianne’s talk was an indication of how interesting the audience found her comments. For the artists present, it also provided a new way of looking at art. Through art the inner being of a person can be exposed. As such, art can indeed be a powerful healing tool. Many thanks, Julianne for sharing your art therapy path with the Lane Cove Art Society.