THE BIG ANXIETY Opens in Melbourne

The Big Anxiety repositions mental health as a collective, cultural responsibility rather than simply a medical or clinical issue.

By: Sep. 21, 2022
THE BIG ANXIETY Opens in Melbourne

Coinciding with National Mental Health Month, The Big Anxiety opened in Melbourne today.

The Big Anxiety repositions mental health as a collective, cultural responsibility rather than simply a medical or clinical issue.

Designed to promote curiosity, insight and action, The Big Anxiety offers a range of creative engagement and experimental experiences that advance innovations for mental health support, understanding and awareness.

Presented in Melbourne by RMIT University in partnership with UNSW Sydney, The Big Anxiety Naarm festival program is produced by RMIT Culture in collaboration with Yarra Ranges Council.

Drawing from significant research and deep engagement with personal lived experiences, the festival program features a series of events and exhibitions, including hi-tech interactive spaces, performances, workshops, conversations and one-to-one dialogues.

RMIT University's gallery spaces feature Archives of Feeling, an exhibition that imagines new ways to share dimensions of trauma across a series of individual and group works, including the T Collective: Simon Crosbie, Mig Dann, Yi Won Park, and Jude Worters.

Drawing on experiences of abuse, dissociation and abandonment at a boarding school, Simon Crosbie reveals knitted garments with long exaggerated sleeves that represent complex, fragmented and unintelligible personal memories.

Multi-disciplinary artist, Jude Worters uses costume to explore concepts related to social stigma and marginalisation, including not fitting in, living beyond social acceptance and the demands of success.

Yarra Ranges Regional Museum will host the augmented-reality experience, Hard Place/Good Place: Yarra Ranges that shares the experiences of seven young people and their emotional recovery following the fierce storms that ripped through the area last year.

Anytime the wind picks up, Claudia Tibbals has flash backs - she shares her experience of falling down the stairs during the storm and how her father thought she had died. 21-year-old, Willow Swaneveld talks about how a tree fell on her house and narrowly missed her.

The Big Anxiety Speaker Series features a line-up of expert creative thinkers. Leslie Jamison will live-stream from America to unpack the challenges of living with an addiction. Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe, Daniel Regan, Honor Eastly and Sally Hepworth will discuss the approaches to creative, relatable and authentic depictions of mental health.

Over two days, The Big Anxiety Forum will promote a cultural approach to mental health where participants will learn from those with lived experiences of trauma and emotional distress.

Reflecting on her role as a lived experience advocate and researcher, Bec Moran will talk about grief and her life beyond a family murder-suicide. For the forum, Bec has designed two escape rooms: a quiet one for time out and a not-so-quiet space for more active pursuits and her 17-minute video work Big Grief, Big Horror is featured as part of Archives of Feeling exhibition.

Indigo Daya will guide conversations about self-injury, silence and injustice as well as invite guests to engage in an installation of pillows and cushions by holding them, writing on them or destroying them.

Awkward Conversations is a one-on-one conversation program designed to discuss challenging topics about mental health. People can book a stimulating chat with ten inspiring artists, including Anna Spargo Ryan who has experienced psychosis, Clem Bastow who was diagnosed as autistic as an adult and Daniel Regan who has experiences of self-harm and self-injury.

As part of the Yarra Ranges program, Edge of the Present at Arts Centre Warburton is an Australian world-first virtual-reality experience for suicide prevention and mood change. The 10-minute installation helps viewers engage with the present moment - and the future - with openness, curiosity and confidence.

The 2021 Australian Mental Health Prize recipient, Honor Eastly will premiere her live performance memoir No Feeling is Final - it draws on stories from her critically-acclaimed podcast series about her lived experience of suicidality and navigating the complex mental health system in Australia.