Abbey Cecil

Winner 2010

Artist Statement

Abbey Cecil is not currently working directly within the Arts Industry. However her art education continues to influence her work.

Abbey's art practice revolves around art in health and the way in which the visible environment impacts on our state of mind.  Engaging with visual stimuli can influence our thought patterns and thus the way in which we process emotions. This contributes to our ability to heal and be healthy, both physically and mentally.  Abbey's focus is to help make hospitals into a more healing environment  in which the inclusion of art throughout the building benefits patients, staff and visitors alike.  

Art Career Beginnings

I originally went to art school because I felt lost.  Making art was the only consistency in my life. I used art as a form of therapy and as a respite from the world. While at university, however, I did some work and volunteering at the University Gallery and Watt Space and realised that helping others to display their creativity was far more rewarding than fostering my own.

From this insight, I developed my interest in arts health, which was the basis of my  Honours thesis.  Art has many purposes. It can be a form of entertainment and enjoyment; it can be a vehicle for social, personal, or political communication; it can be a way of preserving individual and cultural heritage and history. Art can also be used to facilitate recovery. The process of art-making can be therapeutic, as can art present in the environment. Art in hospitals and healing centres has been demonstrated to be conducive to healing, health and well being.

Exploring these ideas changed my direction from being focused entirely on art, to focusing on the welfare of others. 

Images from Abbey's travels.

Above Left: Installation in the Imperial War Museum North (Manchester). The instalations represents people displaced by war

Above Right: Abbey infront of the Museum.

My Jennie Thomas Travelling Scholarship Experience

Winning the Jennie Thomas Scholarship allowed me to travel to Manchester and Dublin where I spent a lot of time in art galleries, but more time in Museums depicting social, industrial and war history. For me it was particularly significant to see not only the stories and artifacts of people’s experiences, but also to see how these stories were manifested into artistic installations. The works I found the most compelling were those representing the trauma of war, loss and displacement. My travels allowed me to investigate both the theoretical research and the practical application of art-health integration into the hospital system. I will continue to explore the efficacy and implications of using art to create environments which will help to alleviate physical and mental ailments and promote holistic well being.

Honors Work

Selected photographs from Abbey's Honours work: Perceivable Improvements: Art in the hospital environment and its effect on physical and mental well being.

Beyond The Scholarship

Following my travels and with my focus now firmly on the welfare of others, I went back to TAFE in 2012 to begin a Diploma in Community Services Work. I also began volunteer work with Humanitarian Settlement Services (Mission Australia), doing social visits and English tutoring with forced migrants.  As of this year (2013) I'm employed as a Supported Playgroup Assistant with Samaritans and as a Residential Support Worker with New Horizons. I see many opportunities opening to me in this field of work.  There are many paths I could choose from. While my work is not directly in the arts, my studies in fine art inform, and will continue to inform, my practice in the Community Industry.

As part of that focus, I continue to enjoy my volunteer work with the John Hunter Hospital Arts For Health Program. This year I have again composed the biennial report for the program.  Art and music in the hospital is a valuable asset to patients, staff, visitors, and the local community. I'm excited to see how it develops and changes in the coming years.

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