Art is a powerful medium for people with disability. It brings creativity, a sense of community and is a powerful way to share life experiences.
For Redcliffe local Donna Hawkins, art has brought a sense of wellbeing through a long and arduous journey to health. Donna is a survivor. She has had cancer three times and lives with a collection of auto-immune disorders which have a significant impact on her day-to-day life. Through it all art has grounded and stabilised her and has been there through some of the toughest points of her life.
“For a long time during my darkest days, I felt life was not worth living. Art has been very healing for me. For a number of years my art reflected my state of mind and my search for meaning in my life,” says Donna.
“I started painting as a child, taking private lessons all through my primary and high school years, and attended Art College for a year after I left school.
“Art became a part-time hobby while I was raising my children when I was focussed on having a ‘real job.’ In my mid-forties, I had to give up my managerial career due to my declining health so I turned once more to creating art, returning to study for a Diploma in Fine Art.
“I define myself as an artist now. Art gave me my life back when I realised that my career did not bring much joy to my heart, but my painting did.”
Through art, Donna has created strong links with her community and is helping others to find meaning through creativity. During time studying alchemy and intuitive development with William Whitecloud, Donna discovered a love of teaching and developed her own style of teaching others to paint. She later became involved with the Redcliffe Art Society and continues to teach there every week.
“From personal experience, I knew how powerful it was to unleash the inner artist. It could heal, and it could bring joy to an otherwise empty existence. I wanted to share that experience with others through teaching.”
“Until I reached a place of acceptance that my life was never to be what it once was, I was depressed and frustrated by my limitations,” says Donna.
“Having art to focus on has gone a long way toward healing my inner world. I now feel that I am living the life I was created to. When you can shift your focus to something that brings you joy, you can turn your life around.”
Donna is a featured artist in EPIC Assist’s annual art exhibition, A World of Difference, which features the works of professional and emerging artists with disability.