In a light and airy room at the Cultural Centre in Katoomba, a group of art students is discussing the use of stripes and grids in painting.
The class takes advantage of the exhibitions nearby, regularly visiting to explore other artists’ form and techniques and to gain inspiration.
What sets this class apart from the usual is the range of students: those with a disability sit side-by-side with so-called “regular” students, in a project designed to integrate the abled and not-so-abled worlds.
Susan Hatswell, manager of day options at Greystanes Disability Service, said the classes aim not to just teach art but to break down barriers that always keep disabled people separate. And show those in the community what talents they have.
The classes aren’t dumbed down, so everyone learns a range of techniques and skills under the guidance of artist Clare Delaney, who was engaged by Greystanes.
“They wanted to create some classes for people living with a disability but to make them more inclusive to the general community, to bring them together,” she said. “I feel that art can be a great leveller, independent of ability.”
She said she tries not to “get hung up on the end product. The art is a vehicle for people coming together to connect.”
Art can be a great leveller.
The project is a joint enterprise between Greystanes, the Cultural Centre and Ms Delaney. For the first time this year it has been funded by a community arts grant from the council.
The next four-week block of classes is starting in October on Thursdays from 10.30am-12.30pm. Anyone interested can call Susan Hatswell at Greystanes on 4784 1118.