The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre's latest exhibition, sensorial, has enjoyed its official opening in Katoomba.
Created with the neurodivergent community in mind, sensorial aims to be an inclusive space. Those who are often overwhelmed by bright lights and loud noises may find this a particularly welcoming space.
The exhibition was officially opened on Friday night, September 15. It consists of immersive environments that can be experienced through a variety of senses. Visitors can engage at their own level, either looking at the creative installations or participating in them by gently touching, hugging, interacting, and listening.
Local artist Hannah Surtees asks the visitor to wrap an everyday object and add to a collaborative installation in the gallery. For Hannah the act of wrapping is both healing and meditative.
"I feel a very deep connection to wrapping; partly due to our son being born prematurely, and spending so much time in hospital, we used swaddling as our only way to protect and comfort him. I find textiles enjoyable to work with in the way it can knot into itself, it's very satisfying," she said.
The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre has worked closely with Katoomba Neurodiversity Hub for the duration of the exhibition's development, engaging Katoomba Neurodiversity Hub Founder, Michelle Swan and art therapist, Amy Bell. The pair worked with participants in the development of an interactive artwork. This artwork, titled Explore the possibilities, is a fully interactive backyard landscape that has been impacted by an alien craft. Gallery visitors are invited to leave their preconceived notions about galleries at the door and touch, play and engage with all aspects of this artwork.
Amy Bell explained some of the meaning behind the Neurodiversity Hub's artistic contribution. "Space is the limitless unknown. The parallels to the experience of neurodivergent people are contained in that theme; feeling 'alien' or at once expansive and isolated yet connected," she said.
"Exploring the senses through this theme has been an opportunity to go into deep space - to expand my understanding of neurodiversity and the benefits of trusting the process."
Michelle Swan said: "The experience of so many neurodivergent people feeling different, and other, and outside is common, so exploring with our community ways to create in a way that could be interacted with inclusively was interesting, challenging and enjoyable."
"Sensorial is meant to be enthusiastically enjoyed. While you and your children are in this space, please consider the sensory needs of the people you share it with."
In addition to the exhibition visitors to the gallery can engage with a Pompom Forest, a public art engagement that will be installed in the reception area. Pompoms are a tactile and textural item, and the act of making them can be meditative. Cultural Centre Volunteer Team members will be on hand to assist you to make your own pompom for the duration of the exhibition.
sensorial is on exhibition until Sunday, November 12 and is supported by the Dobell Exhibition Grant, funded by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, and managed by Museums & Galleries of NSW.
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