Big Anxiety festival coming to Yarra Ranges

A pink image reading

A world-leading arts festival inviting people to explore mental health, trauma and recovery will be heading to the Yarra Ranges from September.

Running from 21 September to 15 October and coinciding with Mental Health Month, The Big Anxiety will use creativity and art to promote a cultural approach to mental health – creating spaces for the community to learn from those with lived experiences of trauma and emotional distress.

Artists, researchers, clinicians, health and community workers will be brought together for events and exhibitions in Naarm / Melbourne and in the Yarra Ranges – with the goal of starting conversations about mental health in the community.

Yarra Ranges Mayor, Jim Child, said he was proud to be hosting several localised events as part of The Big Anxiety.

“Mental health is a key issue in the Yarra Ranges,” Cr Child said.

“We have a large, varied and beautiful region, which we’re all proud to call home. But it can be hard to access services locally and we’ve had a traumatic few years in our community – recently, through the pandemic and storms, and further back in the aftermath of the 2009 bushfires.

“The Big Anxiety will explore how the arts can improve our individual and collective mental health. It will provide a place for us to hear about other peoples’ experiences and see how they resonate with our own.”

A number of local events will be held, alongside events running in the CBD and other parts of Victoria.

A person with long, curly hair stands in an empty room, looking out of a window. They are wearing a virtual reality headset.

Local events include

  • Edge of the Present – a virtual reality experience for suicide prevention, inspired by research into memory and imagination at Arts Centre, Warburton, from 8 October to 27 November (bookings recommended)
  • Hard Place/Good Place: Yarra Ranges – a storm-recovery exhibition featuring augmented reality stories, developed by local young people impacted by the 2021 storms, at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum from 28 September to 27 November.
  • Lost in Serenity – an exhibition by Lucinda Makin, exploring her own lived experienced and the benefits of her artistic practice at The Memo Gallery in Healesville, from 8 September to 27 November.
  • Sincerely Survivor – a film screening and Q&A. The film depicts dancers exploring old asylums and will be screened at Burrinja Cultural Centre on 4 October (bookings required).
  • To the Fallen Trees – a site-based performance work by Marnie Badham and Tammy Wong Hulbert including the reading of letters to fallen trees, drawing attention to ecological loss and responding to the eco-anxiety of extreme weather events. This will occur at One Tree Hill in Tremont on 9 October (bookings required).
  • Daniel Regan Photography Workshop – an outdoor workshop where the camera lens looks inward, as well as out. This will be held at Arts Centre Warburton on 14 and 15 October (bookings required, selling fast).

Cr Child encouraged community members to visit an exhibition or event locally, to head into the city to take part in the full program, and talk about their own experiences.

“No matter where you are in Yarra Ranges, an event will be close by,” Cr Child said.

“I look forward to the conversations this event will start about anxiety, mental health and wellbeing in our communities.

“I encourage all of our community to come along to an event, take part and, of course, to chat with people around you about how you’re feeling.”

This festival has been organised by RMIT University and University of New South Wales, with collaboration from Yarra Ranges Council.

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