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October 5, 2023
Building oppurtunity

Awards show how housing stability can contribute to great art

The 2023 biennial Community Housing Art Awards show diversity, depth and talent among tenants in South Australian community and social housing.

  • Secure housing has allowed Alycia Bennett to advance her artistic practice.
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  • Words: Helen Karakulak
  • Photo: Alycia Bennett

Housing stress has been a common fixture of the news cycle in recent months, but in a positive spin, the biennial Community Housing Art Awards (CHARTS) present talented tenants thriving.

Fourteen artists were awarded by the Community Housing Industry Association of SA at The Mill on Thursday night (September 28).

The awards received 130 entries across four categories: framed/hanging; 3D/sculpture; photography, digital & graphic; and poetry and literature. Each category recognised youth, emerging and general artists.

CEO of the Community Housing Industry Association SA, Luke Westenberg, says it’s important to celebrate skilled tenants to foster connection within communities.

“If I say 30,000 households are in inappropriate or unsuitable accommodation, that sounds like a mental exercise, but we’re really talking about people here,” Westenberg says.

“It allows them to focus on things they do well, rather than sometimes you find in these areas, there can be too much of a focus on what people can’t do or where they need help.”

The association recognises the role art can play in achieving positive mental health outcomes, and Westenberg says the aim of CHARTS is to inspire feelings of achievement and belonging among tenants.

For artist and award-winner Alycia Bennett, that has definitely been the case.

After experiencing unstable housing in the past, Bennett has been a part of the Paris Flat Housing Co-operative for six months.

“Feeling really secure and having some great community around me, that’s actually enabled me to be able to have another studio set up at home and be able to start making works again, which is incredible,” Bennett says.

Alycia Bennett’s winning entry. Photo: Joanna Robinson

Bennett won the general category for 3D/sculpture works for her tapestry, City Cam, Google Streetview, Screenshot. As a full time stay at home parent, Bennett’s creative practice is usually done between the hours of 8pm and 1am.

Utilising a tufting gun and towers of yarn, Bennett’s work uses tapestries to strategise playful resistance techniques in surveilled spaces.

Bennett studied visual art at Adelaide Central School of Art, graduating with first class honours and is informed by ideas of autonomy and self-sustaining communities.

“My works hope to create discussions around the ethicality of being seen, digital ownership and loss of agency through tracking and tracing technologies,” Bennett says.

She encourages other artists to keep their ears open to opportunities and keep making, even if you don’t have a stable place to practice it.

“It could just be little things each day, having a journal or planning for a time when you are settled, and you do have somewhere a space to make because none of your ideas are gonna go away.

“It doesn’t matter what medium that you’re using, it’s gonna come out of you. You’re the real medium.”

One of the younger award winners is 17-year-old Zachary Studley, winner of the youth entrant category for 3D/Sculpture for his abstract art piece Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, or ‘GLaDOS’.

GLaDOS is a fictional character from video game series, Portal, and Zach has brought her to life as a gigantic, evil AI.

“My artwork is supposed to be a symbolism of what happens if AI can take over because recently with artwork and media, AI has kind of gotten a bit out of control,” Zach says.

Zachary Studley with his winning entry. Photo: Joanna Robinson

This was Zach’s second time being involved in CHARTS and agreed this year was bigger and better.

“It’s an excellent opportunity for artists to showcase their talents,” Zach says, “I loved each and every one of the artworks and everyone was so lovely.”

The final award is the People’s Choice Award, voted on by art enthusiasts visiting the exhibition and awarded on the final day.

The Mill will be home to the CHARTS exhibition until October 12.

This article is republished from InReview under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.


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