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IDPwD: Local Artist Response


03 December 2021 11:00 AM


Newcastle Art Gallery

1 Laman Street

Cooks Hill 2300

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Friday 3 December, duration of the day
Online via the Newcastle Art Gallery’s social media channels 

To celebrate International Day of People with Disability we are proud to feature works and insights from six local artists. Join us via our social media channels to learn more about these six Newcastle based artists, Bliss Cavanagh, Dane Tobias, Em Warren, Kathryn Lean, Kerry Shying and Kimberly Morgan-Cruz. Head up to our Instagram and Facebook Stories on the day for more insight into their art practice. 

About the artists:

Dr Bliss Cavanagh
is a sensory-based artist, entrepreneur and expert in the design of sensory spaces backed by evidence-based research. Her PhD research at the University of Newcastle investigated the health and wellbeing benefits of her unique multisensory environments. Drawn from her personal experience of living with Tourette syndrome, Bliss creates large-scale, immersive multisensory installations that offer therapeutic benefits. She has worked on many major commissioned projects within mental health, disability, education, gallery and community settings to engage and resolve issues of accessibility, inclusivity, mental health and wellness. In 2016, Bliss was selected as a Young Social Pioneer by the Foundation for Young Australians for her innovative work in this field. Related Links: @blisscavanagh_sensoryartist

Dane Tobias
is a Newcastle artist. Dane’s first exhibition was Suburbia Abstractica in 2013 at Newcastle ArtSpace (NAS) in Parry Street, followed by a second exhibition; In Suburban Harmony was held at NAS in 2014. He has had two exhibitions at CStudios Gallery in Newcastle West: Technicolour Homespace in 2015 and Divine Spaces And Familiar Places in 2019. He contributed artworks for two group shows at Gallery 139: Artist As Mentor in 2016 and ‘Rockin The Suburbs’ in 2017. In 2018 Dane was the first artist-in-residence at NAS which also included an exhibition, The Brick And Tile Jungle: A Resident’s Tale, which led to Dane obtaining his own studio at NAS in July 2019. In 2018 and 2020 he had works accepted into the Newcastle Emerging Artists Prize. Dane is currently participating in the 2021 – 2022 Mentorship Program run by NAS. Dane was runner-up in the 2021 Blackstone Gallery Works On Paper Prize for his work The Guilty Pleasures Of Life Within A Tangerine, Blue Curacao and Pineapple Cocktail Suite. Related Links: @newcastleartspace @blackstone_gallery @connectabilityaus

Em Warren is a Newcastle-based self taught photographer fascinated by the natural world. Her photography series Velvet Garden 2021, part of the Arts for Health program, Hunter New England is currently on exhibition at John Hunter Hospital until 2022. She is a member of WH!P, a collective of Female Professional Photographers based in the Hunter Region of NSW. Related Links: @emwarrenart @whip_collective @arts_for_health_hne

Kathryn Lean
is a multi-disciplinary artist living and working on Awabakal land. She is currently completing an Advanced Diploma of Visual Art at the Newcastle Art School (Hunter Street TAFE) with a Major in Printmaking and a Minor in Sculpture. Her current body of work is an Autopathography on the hidden aspects of living with chronic illness. Related Link:

Kerri Shying
is a poet of Wiradjuri and Chinese family, publishing across many journals and anthologies. She is the author of a bilingual pocketbook of poems sing out when you want me, 2017, Flying Island Press, Elevensies, 2018 Puncher and Wattman and Knitting Mangrove Roots 2019, Flying Island Press. Kerri held the Varuna Dr Eric Dark Flagship Fellowship for 2019 for her current collection Know Your Country 2020, Puncher and Wattman, and was shortlisted in 2017 for both the Helen Ann Bell Prize and the Noel Rowe Award. Kerri has been convenor of Write Up for 5 years, a free arts/writing group for people living with disability. She lives with disability in Newcastle, NSW with her famous dog Max Spangly. Kerri is a nominee in 2020, an activity of the Human Rights Commission, for disability activism in the arts, and has an art practice in fibre arts and drawing. Related Link: @cartellista

Kimberly Morgan-Cruz
is a Newcastle artist living and working in the Hunter Region of NSW. Her art story started a short time ago due to dramatic circumstances. She survived a stroke on the 16th of July 2016, whilst holidaying in the Philippines. After two weeks and three days, medical clearance was given for her to fly home. A nurse accompanied Kimberly from Manila airport to the JH Hospital. She spent three months in Rehab to learn how to live her life without sensation in her dominant right side and to walk again. Kimberly started art classes at ConnectAbility Australia; to participate in creative activities to enable her hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. What started as an interest, has now become a passion for making art. Kimberly is now developing her art making process and she work's from her studio at home. Related Link: @connectabilityaus

Newcastle Art Gallery’s social media channels: 

Find out more about International Day of People with Disability via the link -

Thank you to all the participating artists. We would also like to acknowledge the assistance of artists Clare Weeks, Em Warren and arts support worker Susan Porteus from Connect Ability Australia, for their behind the scenes support in realising this project.

Images: Courtesy of the artists. 

Alt text. 1. A grid showing details of the six artworks titled 'Local Artist RESPONSE'; 2. A multi-sensory installation using colourful lights and furry tactile objects. Titled 'Relaxation Sensory Room at the Mai-Wel Group' by artist Bliss Cavanagh; 3. A colourful painting of an interior scene. Titled 'The Bespoke Bust from Pompeii in a 1950s Bonquette' 2021 by artist Dane Tobias; 4. A black and white photograph of an agave plant. Titled 'Untitled (Agave)' 2020 by artist Em Warren; 5. A black and white print with body parts and man-made objects morphing into the landscape. Titled 'Internal Fixation through the Calcaneum' 2021 by artist Kathryn Lean; 6. A textile artwork of a small sleeping dog hand-stitched onto printed cotton. Titled 'Max Spangly escapes the Anthropocene' 2019 by artist Kerri Shying; 7. A still life painting of Banksias in an orange vase. Titled 'Beautiful Banksia' 2021 by artist Kimberly Morgan-Cruz.

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Newcastle Art Gallery