North Ryde, NSW
Project Insideout, Macquarie Hospital (MQE)
Macquarie Hospital, Wicks Road, North Ryde, New South Wales 2113
Project Insideout Manager: Kristina Tito
Project Insideout Ceramic Teacher: Annie Coroneos
Studio: 02 9887 5962 l Office: 02 9887 5698
Art mediums catered for include ceramics, painting, print media, photography, drawing, and sculpture.
What is the purpose and philosophy of your studio/organisation?
Project Insideout aims to provide a professional studio and gallery space for developing and emerging artists who experience mental health disability. The studio and gallery operate under the Creativity Rehabilitation Model where participants are supported in the overarching principles of Recovery as defined by the National Mental Health Policy, 2008. In this context the studio and gallery offers a service where patients from MQE Hospital have access to and support in exploring opportunities to develop as artists. Project Insideout also works to facilitate openings for our artists to operate and connect with broader arts communities, along with opportunities to develop and experience professional exhibition practice. The gallery is a commercial venture where artists can sell work, but it is a not-for-profit organisation. Exhibitions are organised in consultation with artists and works are selected by a panel or external curator.
When was your studio established and why?
The MQE Hospital Project Insideout and Ceramic Studio evolved out of the old Gladesville Hospital Ceramic Studio. In 1993, the Gladesville Hospital amalgamated with MQE Hospital and the Ceramic Studio became an important part of the official MQE Hospital Day Program Area. In 2008, as an arm of the MQE Ceramic Studio, the Insideout Gallery was developed through a partnership between the Art Services and Occupational Therapy department at Macquarie Hospital, Northern Sydney Education Conference Centre (NSECC) and the Northern Sydney Local Health District Area Mental Health, Drug/Alcohol Service. It was identified that there was a need to support artists engaged with the MQE Hospital art services, together with artists from broader mental health communities. A key goal was to give these artists greater professional exhibition experience in exhibition development and presentation. The establishment of the Insideout Gallery is an accessible and direct response to this need.
What age and range of disability does your studio support?
From 18 years and upwards.
How many participants access your studio and how often?
Up to 25 participants access the studio within a three day week.
What is the entry process for participants to attend your studio?
Insideout Ceramic Studio – All participants are patients who reside at MQE Hospital and are referred by the Rehabilitation Coordinator in collaboration with the Ceramic Studio Facilitators/Clinical Team. The Project Insideout Committee and Project Manager liaises with art groups, independent organisations and individual artists within the hospital and broader mental health communities, in order to develop exhibitions that promotes excellence in arts practice and supports the professional development needs of artists who experience mental health disability.
How is the studio funded?
The Northern Sydney Local Health District funds Project Insideout. We also seek local government and non-government mental health funding for differing projects.
What qualities and experience do you seek when engaging arts workers in the studio?
Qualities – people who have a strong arts background, identify as being an artist and who enjoy working with and engaging with people who experience mental health disability. Experience – professional artists who have tertiary qualifications in fine arts, particularly in ceramics and who have worked in the fields of disability or mental health.
Share a success story from your studio? For example: significant exhibitions, project partnerships, media outcome.
Kevin Meagher, artist in resident and volunteer at the Insideout Ceramic Studio had his first solo exhibition at the Callan Park Gallery at Sydney College of the Arts, in 2010. This was made possible by the professional support provided by Project Insideout. As an outcome of this exhibition, Kevin was included in a sculpture survey publication titled ‘Sculptural Vehicles for Meaning (Dragers van plastische betekenis)’ for the Out of Art magazine based in Amsterdam. The article was written by Professor Colin Rhodes, Dean of Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. In 2012, Project Insideout formed an official partnership with the City of Ryde (CoR) Council that saw the gallery included as an official CoR Community: Arts and Culture – Creative Space. This means that the gallery has opened its doors to broader Ryde communities, inviting other community projects and emerging artists to utilise this unique exhibition space throughout the year.
Describe the three most significant challenges that your studio encounters and how you are attempting to address these challenges?
1. Need for local supported studio for visual artists with mental health disabilities.
There is a genuine need for a contemporary art studio space, which caters for all art mediums within the local Ryde community and one that specifically supports people living with mental health disability. The Insideout Ceramic Studio gets many expressions of interest from people within the broader mental health community wanting to attend classes at the hospital studio. However, the studio services hospital patients only, mental health consumers outside the hospital are unable to attend and need to find alternative spaces. These spaces are few and far between and would need specialised funding, appropriate support and arts workers to help facilitate a supportive and creative alternative within the local community. The studio aims at integrating participants or refers outside interest to other creative spaces like tertiary institutions, artist run initiatives or artist mentoring opportunities that can support, engage and enhance artistic skill development for our artists.
The Insideout Gallery’s Artist Contracts include a section where an artist can select to remain anonymous and this right will be protected. An artist does not need to be labelled within the context of having a psychiatric disability. This is something that MQE Hospital is very mindful of and in this regard has an obligation to support people in this situation. For example, if someone seeks support from our arts worker to assist with accessing broader arts networks, but didn’t want to divulge private information in regards to their disability, then the arts worker has a priority to support this. Privacy issues are an important part of mental health services. There are also many patients that attend the studio who do not identify as being artists. These issues can become problematic when exhibiting artwork. Artist consent for being presented in the public domain is asked of from all participants that are supported by Project Insideout, along with informed permission from appropriate clinical teams.
Generating and publicising Project Insideout’s value within the broader contemporary arts and health communities. This is an ongoing issue for organisation that support and provide professional development in the arts for people with mental health disabilities.. This is usually due to the reality of the arts workers being generally the sole providers or support structure for artists within this context. Therefore arts workers are often faced with unrealistic expectations that cannot always be met by the studio due to funding and/or organisational issues that it faces. With continued development and advocacy for new partnerships and connections within the arts, education and mental health sectors the generation of value has improved slowly over time. This has created interest in our artists, studio and gallery space.
How do you support the professional development/careers of artists from your studio?
Project Insideout supports both skills development in creative ceramics, visual arts and exhibition practice. It is a space where participants can feel safe to explore new areas of possibility in art making. The arts workers help create supportive networks in the broader arts communities for individuals who see themselves as artists and who would like to move beyond the hospital environment. This can happen in a number of ways:
– Grant applications for differing arts opportunities
– Support/liaison with arts organisation for exhibitions
– Advocate and support artists’ inclusion in critical arts reviews and writings
– Research and provide support for education and professional practice pathways
What is the future direction of your studio and how do you plan to get there?
To continue to support patients at MQE Hospital in exploring personal creativity in a solid arts based environment. To support the development of new supported studio spaces within the Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) that may evolve outside of the hospital environment and that provide best practice in professional arts development. Continue to broaden and develop, supportive networks within the arts, health and disability sectors for Project Insideout.