ARRC – Autoimmune Resource & Research Centre

A collaborative project between the University of Newcastle and the Autoimmune Resource & Research Centre

The Art Visual Narrative and Wellbeing Project (AVNAW) has been published in the Journal of Applied Arts & Health, Volume 5 Number 1 © 2014 Intellect Ltd Major Articles. doi: 10.1386/jaah.5.1.7_1

AVNAW results were presented in Perth, November 2012 at the Art & Wellbeing Conference.  Dr Kathy Grushka presented a paper focusing on the project methods whilst Marline Squance presented the cortisol results showing that participant stress levels (salivary cortisol) post participating in a structured art workshop showed an average reduction of 2.9nMol/L.  The conference presentations were well received with a number of enquiries for further information received upon return to Newcastle.  The study team will also be submitting grant applications for a wider follow-up study in 2014.

About the Project

We live in a visual world and making images about personal life stories are seen as an important way to communicate. Research has identified activities that involve the mind, the heart and the hand, are important for our emotional, social and physical well-being.

A team at the University of Newcastle, in conjunction with the Autoimmune Resource and Research Centre in the HAPS building of John Hunter Hospital, worked with people with a range of autoimmune illnesses including Lupus, Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome, and also people without illness, to gather information on how making art, using visual narratives supports social and emotional well-being of people living with autoimmune illnesses.

The research project sort to build on research that identifies the importance of narratives or stories in health and asked what is unique about artmaking or visual narratives in supporting or maintaining life balance. The project also explored case studies of artists who work with visual narratives to help them manage change or disruption in life events.

An exhibition of some of the art pieces produced as part of the Artmaking, Visual Narrative and Well-being project was held in Oct-2011 to January 2012 in the Royal Newcastle Centre as part of the Art for Health Program of Hunter New England Health.  This exhibition was to demonstrate the beautiful artwork and skills of all study participants and also for the purpose of raising the profile and understanding of Autoimmune illness in the Medical and wider community.

The project team would like to give a heartfelt thanks to all our artists for sharing their stories and their art.  We would also like to express our gratitude to the Arts for Health program for the opportunity to exhibit their artwork.

For more information about this completed study please contact:
Dr Kath Grushka +61 2 4921 6583 or Marline Squance on +61 2 49214095