Wednesday 1 March 2017
By Susan Davis

Last Friday I visited the Aboriginal Women’s Art Group workshop “Strong Women”* to talk to the women there about making artworks and products for our development. There were 10 women of all ages, some with their children and the workshop leader Joan James who is a textile artist, teaching the women the finer points of Shibori dyeing and how their traditional designs can be incorporated into this technique. Part of the technique involves using native plants and flowers placed directly onto the fabrics to create the design.

These workshops will create beautiful textiles and other objects that will be available for sale through the Link building and the Ginninderry project.

As I watched the women working on their designs I couldn’t help noticing how a sense of ease and contentment washed over their faces. There was a general feeling of focus and engagement and I realised that you can’t underestimate the joy and power of making something with your own hands.

Various studies have demonstrated the value of hands-on activities – such as community gardening and crafting – in making meaningful connections and shared identities. This experience has been described as “the flow” – defined as a highly-focussed state that increases awareness, connectivity and well-being.

The “Strong Women” project is the first in what will be an ongoing program of community arts activities at Ginninderry so watch this space for information about future projects.

In the meantime, if you are as intrigued by the “flow” principle as I am, watch this Ted Talk link by psychologist Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalya, and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

*Strong Women is sponsored by the West Belconnen Child and Family Center

3