Art classes go virtual in Tasmania

14 May 2020

Adapting to new safety measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, people who receive our Disability Lifestyle Supports in Hobart have taken to online art classes.

A global pandemic hasn’t stopped Life Without Barriers’ dedicated arts group in Hobart, who meet several times a week as part of their Disability Lifestyle Support services.

Running for over seven years, the Lifestyle Support art classes offer participants a broad range of art activities, from paint on canvas and drawing, to mosaic making and glass artwork, as well as the opportunity to socialise and meet new people.

However, when COVID-19 (Coronavirus) hit Australia earlier this year, the quick-thinking staff and art tutors who run the classes, innovated the service to help keep the tight-knit group safe but engaged.

“For safety reasons, the people we support had to retreat to their residential providers when COVID-19 came along, which meant they could no longer access our day centres for Lifestyle Supports,” says Paul Booker, Life Without Barriers’ Operations Manager for Southern Tasmania.

“But one of our excellent art tutors, Jeannie Mooney, came up with the idea to run the art classes online, and she’s been organising it since."

Following government advice to stay at home, the Hobart team have successfully used online platforms like Zoom or Hangouts, depending on the participant’s familiarity or preference, to continue art classes online.

It’s proved a great way for participants to remain engaged, connected and continue working on their skills, even during isolation.

Image: Lawrence tuning in.

“Doing videos is fun, it helps me stay in touch until we get back together again,” says participant Lawrence Dooley.

When asked what he’s working on at the moment, he says “I’m latch-hooking. I just finished one piece and now I’m doing a cat picture.”

Similarly, fellow participant Matt Hoori enjoys the online classes, but is looking forward to reuniting with his group in person.

“I love doing art on video every single Wednesday, it’s like I’m making a video and I’m in it,” says Matt.

“I’d rather be doing it in person but it’s fun over video cam.”

Image: Matt and his art

Some of the artworks made by participants in the art classes are available for purchase online this month as Tasmania’s AgFest has also been moved online. A percentage of each sale goes back to the artist, too.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase their work, but there will be other exhibitions later in the year,” adds Paul, “Classes at our studio will recommence soon, too.”

You can also visit the new Life Without Barriers In-Gage Group, which is part of our Tasmanian disability art programs as a place for people to purchase one-off artworks by our dedicated participants, with all profits going to the program to benefit the artists.

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