Jacqueline King with her work Angels All Around that will be part of the Heartfelt House exhibition.
Jacqueline King with her work Angels All Around that will be part of the Heartfelt House exhibition.

An Artfelt plea to get creative

Jacqueline King says Heartfelt House helped “drag her back from the darkness” and now she hopes to shine a light on their work in return.

The Alstonville resident was sexually assaulted at work over four years ago, an ordeal that triggered memories of childhood sexual abuse she had long thought buried, leaving her with the debilitating effects of post traumatic stress disorder.

She then attended Heartfelt House’s Taking the First Steps course, which helps adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse begin their journey to healing, and said it changed her life.

“Even though I can remember what happened to me as a child, I’d never faced it or dealt with it,” she said. “It’s called Taking the First Steps for a reason – it’s not a cure but it helps you recognise behaviours you’ve dragged with you your whole life. Suddenly I realised why I would react to things a certain way.

“I’d been in therapy for three years before I went to Heartfelt House but there was still a sense of isolation. To be able to meet with other survivors and be very intimate in terms of your life story was part of the magic of it.”

Jacqueline said while the course was no walk in the park, it was well worth the effort as she now feels more in control of her life and her emotions.

“It’s hard work – it’s 18 weeks of very intensive emotional exploration – but from what I’ve seen I believe it’s the most effective platform for healing in the country,” Jacqueline said. “I was so overwhelmed with the quality of what they had to offer for adult survivors I wanted to give something back.”

Jacqueline, a glass artist, decided she wanted to create an annual exhibition and art prize to raise money for Heartfelt House and encourage artists to explore their feelings around the theme “Relationships: what they mean to you”.

“I’m an artist and I came to art as a way of dealing with my trauma – it started as therapy and became a passion,” Jacqueline said. “The more I talk to artists, the more I find there has usually been some trauma in their life that brought them to art. I thought using art could also be a less confrontational way of looking at the issues Heartfelt House addresses.”

Called Artfelt, the exhibition and art prize will be staged at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina in July, with a $1000 first prize for the winner.

Jacqueline has already finished her entry – a beautiful mirror made with clear textured glass titled Angels All Around.

“It’s designed to force the viewer to see themselves – in this case it was me,” Jacqueline said. “I created a circle inside the mirror to reflect how I couldn’t find a way out of what was going on in my life at the time and then the outside of the mirror reflects all the people who were around me who cared.”

Entries for Artfelt are now open and people can download entry forms from the website www.artfelt

artexhibition.shutterfly.com, where there’s also lots of information on how you can get involved if you’re not an artist and see all the generous sponsors involved like Gaia Retreat (platinum sponsors), SCU, NAB, the Ramada and more.

Artfelt will be judged by a panel of three – Lismore Regional Gallery director Brett Adlington, Tweed River Gallery director Susi Muddiman and former director of the Northern Rivers Community Gallery, Eva Brown.

For more information, phone Jacqueline on 6628 8878.

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