SSI Ability Links participant Pip Smith has won the Blue Mountains City Council Visual Arts Prize, and this opened new opportunities for her.
SSI Ability Links is a proud partner of the Blue Fringe Arts Festival, a festival held in the Blue Mountains that brings the community together to destigmatise and raise awareness about mental health.
During the last edition of the festival, first time entrant and SSI Ability Links participant Pip Smith won the prestigious Blue Mountains City Council Visual Arts Prize for her artwork Journey.
“I’ve never entered an art competition before and it took a while to sink in. Winning Blue Fringe made me feel motivated and like I could go on to paint more, said Pip.
After this outstanding achievement, Pip invested some of the prize money in printing cards featuring her artwork. The cards were very popular, with the entire first print run selling out. This has been the first step for Pip to develop her own small business, raising her confidence and painting a new future.
“It makes me feel there is reason to keep painting; it makes me realise my ability. I’m a very hyper active person and painting grounds me, it’s almost like meditation. I have chronic asthma, PTSD, and I’m in recovery with alcohol. Painting is important to me because it keeps me well.”
Along with producing cards, Pip has been working with different community groups that value her talent. A local peer group for teenage girls with Autism has invited her as guest speaker to talk about using your talents and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Another grass roots community group of people with disability has asked to use one of her artworks, Meeting as one, as their logo and a representation of their values. Pip’s description of the painting states that, “Meeting as one means many groups coming together, not all on the same pathway, but all connected”.
Pip initially contacted SSI Ability Links for support to access the NDIS.
“I had chronic asthma as a child and this led to having a stroke when I was 18 months old, which affected my right side. They didn’t know it was a stroke until I was at home in my high chair and I couldn’t pick up my fork. I had a tendon transplant in my right arm when I was in primary school that gave me some more mobility, but the use of my right arm is still very affected.”
Pip explained that the NDIS says her condition is a health matter and not a disability even though it affects her everyday life. While Ability Links was supporting Pip with her NDIS appeal, her Linker encouraged her to share her art through the Blue Fringe Arts Festival, creating new opportunities for Pip’s art.
(Written by Pip, supported by Linker Cherie Brandon)