We know that for many people with lived experience of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, creating art is a great way of expressing difficult times or their recovery journey. Creativity can be such an important and healing process.

In honour of all those who create art as a way of expressing themselves, we are inviting people to share their work with us and their community.

Submitted artworks will be displayed on this page as a virtual gallery (unless in breach of our Community Guidelines). You can choose to share the meaning alongside your piece to give hope and inspiration to others and can display your real name or a nickname/pseudonym.

Artwork competition - our finalists!

In recognition of NSW Mental Health Month, all artworks submitted to our online gallery before Sunday 31 October 2021 were also entered into our inaugural artwork competition.

One winner and fiver runners-up were selected by our panel, which included members of the MHDA Executive, MHDA clinical staff, MHDA Aboriginal staff, peer/lived experience representation and carer representation.

You can read more about our finalists, view the artworks and browse all the amazing artworks in our gallery below.

A message from our selection panel

The winner of the 2021 MHDA Lived Experience Artwork Competition is

Brightness Comes from Dark and Darker Days, by artist Amanda Chappell

The selection panel loved this artwork and the use of colour and form. They felt that the piece expressed well what it can be like to experience a mental health crisis.

Panel members noted that there could be a lot of different interpretations of this piece and the details within it. They felt that each person would be able to take something different from it and relate to the experiences the artwork expresses.

The story shared by the artist alongside the piece demonstrated the resilience and strength held by people with a lived experience of mental health issues, and the importance of holding on to hope.

With these messages, the selection panel felt that this piece would complement the Mental Health Vision and Mission statements and demonstrate the type of care and support that we hope will be experienced by all people accessing our services.

The winning artwork will be the official artwork for the MHDA Vision and Mission Statements and will accompany these where they are printed or displayed.

The following five artworks have been awarded runners-up positions (in no particular order):

  • Hope, by Brimo

The selection panel felt that this artwork very clearly displays the importance of hope in recovery. They loved the use of layers in the picture, the different focus points which create areas of blurring and clarity and the use of light on the hand to highlight the reaching for hope and support.

  • Make a Wish - Dream Big, by Narelle Whitham

The panel found this artwork striking and engaging to look at. They loved the use of the ink and colour and the symbolism of the dandelion, which they could relate to themselves. They felt that the artwork and the message behind it conveyed really well a sense of wishing and hoping for better days ahead.

  • Manic Monday, by Erin Elsley

The panel thought that this piece was really clever and beautiful in its imagery and use of colour against the contrasting black and white lines. They felt that there was something in this artwork for everyone and it could be interpreted in many different ways.

They were touched by the meaning of the piece and the story behind it and thanked the artist for so bravely sharing their experience of loss.

  • Hope is Through the Door! by Tracey Hibbert

The panel were intrigued by how much detail there is in this piece and how it tells a story through symbolism. They found that the longer they looked, the more they would notice about the artwork. They felt the use of the door and the bright and dark sides around it were powerful uses of imagery. The panel felt that the piece represented different elements of an experience with mental health issues which many people would be able to relate to.

  • A Mother's Heart, by Laurie Nelson

The panel appreciated the carer experience represented in this piece and felt that it was a powerful representation of the carer relationship. They felt that the artwork was very skilled in its execution and form and could be interpreted in different ways. They liked the symbolism of the growth of hope depicted in the plant and light beam.

Runner-up artworks will be included in printed and online information resources for people and their loved ones accessing mental health, drug and alcohol services.

Thank you to all those who submitted their amazing artworks to our competition.

Our Lived Experience Art Gallery will remain open and artists from across the Murrumbidgee Local Health District are invited to contribute their work to be viewed by others in our community.