Angels of our Better Nature
Visitors to the Huon Linc over summer could not have missed a huge steel head standing outside the library entrance. Looking into its eyes reveals a series of short films playing on a loop. This extraordinary sculpture is the Art Teller Machine and it tells the stories of Angels of our Better Nature.
Angels may appear in many guises, but possibly never before in the form of a huge steel head. The Angel Head, a significant piece of art in its own right, is a travelling cinema, an eye-catching theatre of the mind, where passers-by can catch a glimpse into the lives of people living with acquired brain injuries.
Kickstart Arts is an award-winning arts organisation that has been making art with communities since 1992. Their mission is to help people from a diverse range of backgrounds to share their stories and build bridges of understanding across communities.
Headway Rebuilding Lives, is a professional organisation supporting people with disabilities, particularly those who have Acquired Brain Injuries. They offer support and information, as well as individually designed support programs for people living with brain injuries and other diabilities. They aim to connect people with their community, helping them gain skills, find employment and enabling social inclusion for people who might otherwise be very isolated.
Over the five years of collaboration with Headway, artists from Kickstart worked with a group of people from Headway who were passionate about sharing their stories, and the result is a series of short films about the experience of living with an Aquired Brain Injury.
Around 35 people participated in the digital storytelling project, learning photography and video skills with the professional artists from Kickstart, and developing artistic concepts for the stories they wanted to tell.
Leslie Field’s work Angels is a captivating meditation on the experience of being lost and out of time. In a technically accomplished piece of film-making the viewer experiences two different time scales. Set against a background of frantic rush in the city, a woman exists in her own time, in the frame yet apart from the busyness, the coming and going of the city. Her angels are real and personal.
Eat, Drink, Sleep also investigates the nature of time, but from a very different perspective.
The Go-Pro dare-devil meme meets daily care for the elderly to create a brand-new Hero-Cam genre.
In My Life as a Fish Paul Allen tells his story of being trapped in a frightening alternative reality while in a coma after a traumatic head injury. Ultimately his story is one of determination not capitulation. Despite the new challenges in his life, he has things to do.
Sometimes it only takes one moment to change your life, a moment that changes everything… I am not going to let that moment change my life.
Jacqui Requiem is a moving tribute to Jacqui Hodgson Brown, who suffered a brain injury as a young woman when she was kicked in the head by a horse, leaving her unable to speak or walk unaided. She went on to marry and became a much loved member of the Headway community. She passed away in 2012 and is deeply missed.
Jacquie was at the heart of our community. Her courage, optimism, persistence and humility remain an inspiration to all of us.
Frozen Faces is a “poetic evocation of the past, of stillness, of overlooked detail that may just be visible if you move slow enough in your wheelchair.”
In To Hell and Back the spoken word takes the audience on a journey. It is a powerful piece of writing taken from Maureen’s diary of the time her husband Greg nearly died from a stroke. Again, the notion of time is explored as the story is told with an immediacy that carries the listener along with the family.
Fatherhood is the simple yet powerful story of Stuart Maughan’s relationship with his son and his message perhaps sums up the values that underlie this project.
I don’t want to be pitied. I just want understanding.
All participants had input into designing the Angel Head which was constructed by Max Meyer. The Head is intended to be displayed in non-traditional venues and its purpose is to raise awareness about brain injury and living with disability. It has now moved on from the Huon Linc but the films can be viewed online here.
Thanks to Richard Bladel from Kickstart Arts for his help with this article.