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June 2019

Artwork jpeg
A Finding Our Words exhibition piece of art.

Exhibition puts mental health into words

An art exhibition at the Dax Centre aims to help visitors develop a deeper understanding of the complexities of mental illness.

Finding Our Words shares poetry and visual arts from the Cunningham Dax Collection.

The collection is named after psychiatrist Dr Eric Cunningham Dax who, in the 1940s while working in an English psychiatric hospital named Netherne, became interested in the power of art to help people living with mental health issues.

‘The collection is the only one of its kind and size in Australia, historical and contemporary, with more than 16,000 artistic works produced by people with a lived experience of mental health issues or psychological trauma,’ said Dax Centre director Charmaine Smith.

‘It includes works created at Victoria’s psychiatric hospitals during the 1950s to 1980s and, more recently, through community programs or within artists’ own studios.’

The Dax Centre is a leader in the use of art to raise awareness and reduce stigma of mental health issues.

It is based in the same building as the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health on the grounds of Melbourne University and is part of SANE Australia.

Part-funded by the State Government, it offers exhibitions and educational programs to the public, seeking to engage, inform and encourage community connections and conversations about mental health issues.

The Finding Our Words exhibition opens on June 20 and is on display until September 20.

The Dax Centre gallery is open to the general public from Wednesday to Friday between noon and 5p.m.

Entry is free and donations are welcome.