By Professor Jane Davidson
As we move through public zones, we are surrounded by the results of creative arts endeavours: the music that seeps into our consciousness across the aisles in clothes stores or in the local restaurant; the art that is exhibited in parks and galleries or found the design and fabric of the colossal buildings and monuments in our towns and cities, or even art reproduced to be enjoyed in everyday items such as notebook covers and postcards. We are often unwilling consumers – surrounded by the heavy bass beats emanating from the passer-by’s headphones – but for most of us in many places in the world, we have creative arts outputs as constant and invigorating backgrounds to everyday life.
In addition to the prevalence of creative arts in public contexts, given we actively select our ‘own arts’ in our private contexts artworks, plays, poems, novels which – thanks to modern technology – can be carried with us at all times, accompanying our personal day-to-day existence and reflecting our experiences or even aiding us in creating our social identities. Online downloading and portable devices have rendered all types of creative arts instantaneously available at any desired moment.
As the articles in this issue of NiTRO reveal, active engagement in creative arts can produce a raft of strong wellbeing benefits that while punctuating lived experience can bind us together, generate transferable physical and mental wellbeing benefits, and assist in regulating, coordinating and/or recovering physical and psychological skills and behaviours. For those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the results can be startling with creative artistic engagement both assisting to restore the past and forge a sense of connection with people in the present. For the majority, creative arts engagements give motivation, structure and meaning through the psychophysical and social work they do.
We hope this issue displays this impressive array of engagements and benefits. In it, Frederic Kiernan (Melbourne), interviews Alyson Campbell (Melbourne) and Stephen Farrier (University of London) to learn more about the ‘Feral Queer Camp’.
Alexander Crooke (Melbourne) and Jane Davidson (Melbourne) share the themes that emerged from their research on musicians in the Covid Pandemic.
Carol Brown (Melbourne) explores the relationship between dance, music, health and wellbeing.
Niki Wallace (UNISA), Aaron Davis (UNISA) and Ian Gwilt (UNISA) explain how participation in the process of co-design can deliver wellbeing benefits.
In his second contribution, Frederic Kiernan (Melbourne) unpacks notions of creativity as he highlights the work of the Creativity and Wellbeing Hallmark Research Initiative.
Health Researcher Lisa Moosad (Melbourne) reflects on a recent photographic exhibition and what participation meant for some of its participants.
Sarah Woodland (Melbourne) discusses a rights-based approach to art and culture in incarceration.
Simon-Peter Telford, Lyndal Hordacre Kobayashi, Chloe Cannell, Morgan Chilvers, Jenn Ngo, and Amelia Walker, share how the Critically Creative Reading and Writing Collective (CCRWC) at the University of South Australia proved invaluable during COVID.
Jeanti St Clair (Southern Cross University) outlines the healing and resilience properties of her Flood Stories project.
James Oliver (RMIT) considers health and wellbeing within our institutions, adding an anthropoetic interpretation.
Also in this edition, Vanessa Tomlinson (Griffith), Donna Weston (Griffith), Leah Coutts (Griffith) and Diana Tolmie (Griffith) share their observations of music students in lockdown.