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The Transformational Power of Art

The Transformational Power of Art
The lines are simple yet strong. The symbols immediately recognizable and composed with a confidence you’d expect from extensive experience, yet the power of their imagery transcends art to provide opportunities for a group of Broome men.
Beautiful lino prints are the vehicle through which an innovative program is helping men to transform their lives through the acquisition of new skills and the support to develop small commercial enterprises relevant to their individual needs and abilities. In a world where images can be digitally captured, copied and printed in unlimited numbers by anyone with a mobile phone and an inkjet printer, the tradition of real print making is finding a new appreciation. It has a significant heritage going back thousands of years. Print making involves cutting a design into a substrate, for example wood, clay or stone which can then be covered in ink or paint to transfer the image on to a variety of surfaces such as paper or fabric. The invention of linoleum in the late 1800s provided print makers with a less expensive and easier to use medium for print making. Originally seen as a poor quality medium its popularity grew from the early 1900s with is use by artists such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. 
The Men’s Art Programme, an initiative between Kimberley Mental Health and Milliya Rumurra Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre is encouraging men to explore creative skills in various mediums including print making. This program is a transition for men who complete the Milliya Rumurra program as well as those referred through Kimberley Mental Health, Men's Outreach, Broome Hospitable and other Indigenous Employment agency's.
Local print maker Jane Lawton has been a constant and reliable teacher for the group passing on her traditional skills in lino print making. The standard of the men's work has rapidly increased resulting in a range of original handprinted T-shirts now available at the Broome Court House Markets. 
The program achieved a number of milestones in 2014 including screen printing demonstrations for Liz Art tours During Shinju Matsuri 2014 and printing the Kimberley Girl promotional shirts. The success of the program has enabled the men to made solid decisions in their everyday lives. The men's original artwork can be found at A Taste of Broome and The Courthouse Markets. These public outlets have given the men confidence and self esteem helping to achieve a steadier mental attitude to life and the obstacles and hurdles it can present.
If you are looking for a unique artwork with a tradition and heritage that transcends the cheap digital reproduction then it’s hard to go past one of these amazing lino prints. Who knows you might just help to discover the next Matisse.

Originally published in the Broome Advertiser 28 January 2015 for the Local Aesthetic Column.


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