Artists using creativity to break down barriers

VISITORS from across the state came together in Hobart last month to celebrate the artistic pursuits of people living with a disability, at the eighth annual Ability to Create exhibition.

The fully immersive exhibition at Hobart Town Hall showcased the work of more than 80 local participants, and encouraged visitors to activate their senses through sight, smell, sound and touch.

In 2013, Ability to Create founder Freddy Lee-Mount approached the council with an idea to celebrate the ability and talent of people living with disability in Hobart.

“I wanted to create awareness about people living with disability in our community and showcase their artistic flare and skill to the greater Hobart community,” he said.

“Everybody is here to show their art. This isn’t about their disability it is about their ability.”

A digital light show, a sensory garden and a giant cuddle box were just some of the many exhibits on display to the public at this year’s exhibition.

Ability to Create also featured a marketplace for artists to sell their work, a number of interactive workshops, and a series of live performances across the three-day program.

“The format we moved to last year, with artists working alongside participants on thematic projects, worked really well,” Hobart Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds said.

“The event is going from strength to strength, and this year was a standout exhibition.

“One of the great things about artistic expression is that it can provide a voice for people to share their stories.”

Local rock band Sound Barriers launched the festival on 28 July with a set of their original songs and some classic covers by the likes of AC/DC and Twisted Sister.

Formed by attendees at a Life Without Barriers community program for people with disabilities, Sound Barriers features Matt “Hoori” Houri, Geoff Forsyth, Jenny Derrick and Matt Brady along with Life Without Barriers day program support worker Andy Whitaker and local musician David Steel.

Drummer and singer Matt Houri said the band had performed at various gigs in Hobart, including at International Day of People with Disability events for the past four years.

“We love being rock stars – we just want to have fun and encourage the crowd to get involved and have fun with us,” he said.

Andy Whitaker said Sound Barriers is about keeping active and being mentally stimulated.

“Being a part of the band goes beyond just having fun and hanging out with mates,” he said.

“The band is really rewarding for the players – it keeps them stimulated and engaged.”

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