Burnie Works writing

Art leads a Tasmanian community’s COVID-19 recovery

Feeling isolated, anxious and worried about money are feelings shared by many Australians impacted by COVID 19.

One Tasmanian not-for-profit has been quick to think outside the box to help its community throughout the pandemic. Burnie Works, a community change collective, has led a Social Recovery Campaign inspired by art.

Innovative ideas like a travelling nine-foot tall 'Set me free' paper sculpture and a set of Survival Cards are helping prompt discussion and encouraging people to seek support.

Locals guide development of art projects

The collective’s Lucy Taylor, who is responsible for stakeholder engagement and communications, said that the arts space is a big part of Burnie’s story. Locals guided the development of activities.

“During lockdown we wanted to make people feel validated that they were not alone in how they were feeling.”

“In our initial Zoom meeting with the community, one of the ideas was to produce a big and exciting prop to represent social recovery. So, local artist Cynthia Hawkins built our sculpture which has been exhibited and has toured around different schools helping kids reflect on their COVID experiences,” explained Lucy.

The Survival Cards came out of the many ideas that were shared on how to cope in times of challenge - from learning something new, to holidaying in your backyard or cooking Nanna’s favourite recipe.

“After lockdown in 2020, we had an event where an artist chatted to people about their feelings and hopes. We kept collecting stories with similar themes and we wanted to a find a fun way of using this huge body of work.”

“We decided to make our own deck of 32 illustrated cards, each with a survival strategy. The thinking behind it was to make the stories of joy and resilience accessible to everyone.”

The thinking behind it was to make the stories of joy and resilience accessible to everyone.

All cards were illustrated by Liz from Ebb Draws. Liz explores her connection with the North-West Coast of Tasmania through the clear skies and vast stretches of ocean, watching how they shape the land and the people around her.

You can view the full artwork for the cards on the Burnie Works website.

Other activities have included free monthly Recharge Lunches aimed at self-care for workers and free family outdoor events.

Burnie Works art board

A new and exciting era for Burnie Works

Living in the new normal, Burnie Works has recently become an independent not for profit, moving out of Council premises to its own offices.

The team is focused on looking at long term issues. They want to build community capacity for change to happen, including education to employment pathways. The Burnie LDAT also works closely with Burnie Works on issues around alcohol and other drugs, including an updated publication on knowing your risks.

Lucy’s advice for community groups wanting to implement positive change is that you can’t do it all yourself.

“It’s a group effort. Deep listening and letting everyone’s voice be heard. The sharing of stories is key for people to have a sense of belonging and wellbeing,” she said.

BurnieWorks sculpture

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