Resetting the agenda on masculinity

A WEEK-LONG video and photographic installation that attempts to reset the agenda on how society understands and discusses masculinity began its Tasmanian tour at the Waterside Pavilion in Hobart last month.

Supported by grants from the Tasmanian Community Fund and Hobart City Council, the installation is a celebration of 21 years of behind-the-scenes development work by the Tasmanian Men’s Health and Wellbeing Association.

In addition to 40 still photographs exhibited by multi-award winning still photographer Paul Hoelen, the installation sees 13 men open their heart and tell their stories in short video interviews directed by former ABC and now independent videographer Troy Melville.

From being in close relationships, dealing with grief, guilt or a divorce to reaffirming the joys in their lives, each man’s personal journey is shared with heartfelt honesty and integrity.

Mr Hoelen said the images captured the essence of men engaging with both themselves and other men on a much deeper and more authentic level.

“There is a certain quality of open-heartedness, courage and vulnerability and even love that shines through some of these moments,” he said.

“Collectively, they have the power to touch and inspire others into recognising the great capacity for men to relate in this way.”

Tasmanian Men’s Health and Wellbeing Association president Paddy Murray said this was the association’s first chance in 21 years to showcase to the broader community how it could improve the emotional health of men in the community.

“We want to bring attention to how men can be respectful of each other, take ownership of their own behaviours, learn to be better communicators and live and speak from the heart,” he said.

“The portraits and video interviews show healthy emotions and a rich, diverse and authentic portrayal of a healthy life-affirming masculinity in its many forms.”

Tasmanian Community Fund chairperson Sally Darke said the Fund was pleased to support this worthwhile exhibition, which went a long way to helping break down the stereotypes surrounding masculinity.

“This exhibition focuses on the road men can travel to develop the best in themselves,” she said.

“It shows a healthy way to see men, their potential and the positive contributions they make to a safe, strong and resilient community.

“Congratulations to all involved for a successful and touching exhibition.”

Mr Murray said the exhibition had “surpassed their wildest dreams” with more than 1000 people visiting over the week.

“As a result, we now have a new men’s circle that meets fortnightly in Hobart,” he said.

Caption: Pictured above, guests at the recent Men with Heart exhibition. Pictured right, photographer Paul Hoelen with close friend Shelley Cusiter.

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