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Art meets health in David Williams' reconciliation week painting

Emma Ruben -

To the untrained eye, healthcare and art don't have a lot to do with each other.

But for artist and Wakka Wakka man David Williams, there is a huge connection between the two.

Mr Williams created an art piece for Mater hospital in Queensland telling the story of the healthcare organisation's history and their commitment to reconciliation.

Titled The Heart to Heal, the Strength to Grow, Williams said the connection between art and healthcare has always been a strong one.

"There is actually a huge connection because the healing properties that exist in the representation of our culture and stories in a visual form, actually have a number of healing properties," he said.

"When you have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, creating that culturally safe environment through the use of artwork that has a strong story, it's actually quite a powerful tool.

"Healthcare is such an important part of our society and if we can make it accessible and relevant and something that people are drawn to and connect with, through a visual form, that's certainly something we've tried to do."

'The Heart to Heal, The Strength to Grow' artwork by David Williams of Gilimbaa

As a digital artist who uses Aboriginal artwork in a contemporary way, Williams said symbolism played a large part in creating this piece.

"One of the vehicles that's actually been wrapped in the artwork and that's one of the vehicles that does home visits," he said.

"This car that's gone around visiting patients it's actually carrying that story of what this artwork represents.

"It's carrying that message and it really stands out and it really demonstrate what Mater is doing in this area."

To be displayed at Mater hospital, Williams said he wanted this to be an art form people actively engage with.

"It needs to be vibrant, it needs to get people excited because having people part of this process and engaged in this process is what really makes that route journey more effective," he said.

"If it's just something that gets printed on a document and sits on the shelves of corporate head office, it will really lack that traction and what it needs.

"So if it draws people in, people can ask the question 'what is this?', 'what is this about?'

"And then we can have Mater employees telling the story because they were part of that creation and be champions of that artwork through the organisation."

When creating the artwork, Williams said it was his own personal connection that inspired him.

"I have a seven year old and a four year old and they were both born at Mater," he said.

"So when I was creating this, it was more of a personal connection to me because I was involved with Mater as a patient effectively.

"And thinking about what part of this story can help people like myself and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families who are gauging the hospital system, like what would they want to see."

The artwork will be incorporated across Mater's eleven Queensland hospitals.


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