Artist puts his mind to film-making

Whyalla’s Artist in Residence Richard Parker recently teamed with Country Health SA and the University of South Australia to create an exhibition inspired by the theme of recovery.

The exhibit was aimed at removing the stigma surrounding mental health through the therapeutic nature of creating visual arts such as sculptures, posters, paintings, and a stop-motion film.

It is part of the 2017 South Australian Living Artists Festival (SALA), a free visual arts festival held every year, and receives funding from UniSA.

Mr Parker worked with members of the country mental health inpatient unit in Whyalla to create some of the art on show at the exhibit.

The event combined two of Mr Parker’s main interests.

“I have had an interest in animation since I was 17. I used to love reading comic books and watching Warner Brothers cartoons,” he said.

“I have had a big passion in mental health for a long time because I have struggled with depression and social anxiety myself. So it is really the meeting of those two things.”

The stop-motion animation film being made by Mr Parker was inspired by one of the people in recovery at the country mental health inpatient unit.

“The film is about a boat going through storms as a metaphor for depression. Basically we are trying to re-frame mental illness as something that is quite courageous and brave,” he said.

“The boat has to go through storms and eventually you can’t keep going on and on.

“I have spent a lot of my time talking and counselling, swapping stories.”

Whyalla Integrated Mental Health Services Acting Manager Jo Drummond said it was positive to link in with local artists and the university to promote mental health.

“Anybody who has a mental illness can express themselves in different ways. We are looking to combat mental health issues in a positive way,” she said.