Cessnock and Maitland regional art galleries host International Day of People with Disability exhibitions

ARTISTIC: Mai-Wel creative arts program participants Alex Rennie and Sammy O'Grady with one of the works that will be on display at Cessnock Regional Art Gallery's 'Cessnock Includes You' exhibition.
ARTISTIC: Mai-Wel creative arts program participants Alex Rennie and Sammy O'Grady with one of the works that will be on display at Cessnock Regional Art Gallery's 'Cessnock Includes You' exhibition.

A brand new exhibition championing artists with disability will open at Cessnock Regional Art Gallery this week.

The exhibition will be officially opened in conjunction with International Day of People with Disability celebrations on Saturday.

Cessnock Includes You will showcase a range of artworks created by artists with a disability who access inclusive arts opportunities and mentoring through the Mai-Wel Group’s creative arts program in Cessnock and Maitland.

It is part of a city-wide, multi-agency approach to this year’s IDPwD celebrations, which will also include a ‘Come and Try’ sports and recreation day at Cessnock PCYC on Friday.

The art exhibition includes installation, digital arts, music, sculpture and artwork, all produced via Mai-Wel’s creative arts services.

Mai-Wel creative arts and life skills coordinator Steve Burchill the program is open to people of all ages and all abilities, with the aim to foster an inclusive arts scene.

The works on display in Cessnock Includes You are mostly collaborative pieces created by program participants and mentors, with some works by individual artists.

Participants have also helped to curate the exhibition and one has even started volunteering at the Cessnock gallery.

Cessnock Regional Art Gallery chairperson Barbara Rodham said the collaboration with Mai-Wel has been a “very rewarding and equal partnership”.

“One of the big things we wanted to focus on when the gallery re-opened (in June 2015) was to make it more inclusive,” she said.

“It has been a privilege to start working with Mai-Wel and observe the talent that the participants have.”

The gallery hosts ‘Arts4All’ community classes on the third Wednesday of the month.

The community class strives to promote integration and collaboration between artists with and without disability, often exploring different mediums and ideas and using the inspirational surrounds of the current exhibition within the gallery to create both independent and collaborative works.​

Nine artists from the Mai-Wel program entered CRAG’s inaugural Spring Art Fair in September.

Cessnock Includes You will run from November 30 to January 8, with an official opening on December 3 at 5pm. All are welcome to attend.

Artworks by Mai-Wel creative arts program participants will also be on display at Maitland Regional Art Gallery from December 3.

It will be the third year the MRAG has hosted the Maitland Includes You exhibition in collaboration with a number of local disability service providers.

INITIATIVE: Mai-Wel creative arts program participant Pertriece Brown (left) is a volunteer at Cessnock Regional Art Gallery. She is pictured with Mai-Wel creative arts mentor Denise Duffy.

INITIATIVE: Mai-Wel creative arts program participant Pertriece Brown (left) is a volunteer at Cessnock Regional Art Gallery. She is pictured with Mai-Wel creative arts mentor Denise Duffy.

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