Artists and Community art facilitator Sue Loveday pictured with Art Gang member Frankie, who loves to paint in Broncos colours
On Friday mornings, West End Community House comes alive in a riot of colour and laughter.
Vibrant palettes of paint are laid out on trestle tables in the backyard, as members of the Community Plus+ Art Gang greet each other on arrival, share morning tea and start making art.
Community artist Sue Loveday facilitates the diverse group of artists in Art Gang, which includes people with varying degrees of disability, or who have experienced hardship, mental health issues or homelessness.
“The friendships in Art Gang are just beautiful,” Sue said.
“Some of the artists have been part coming for more than 10 years, and it’s not only the creative side that they get out of it, but it’s also that sense of belonging to a group where they are in control of their own development as artists.
“We’re one big creative family here.”
Christine working on her latest artwork
Sue said she’s loved working alongside each artist to develop their own unique style over the years.
“Frankie paints in maroon and yellow because she loves the Broncos,” Sue said.
“George’s style is based on energetic shapes that we call donuts and windows and he has evolved these marks into making landscapes lately. Other artists use words and imagery on the canvas that illustrate their story of life how they experience it.”
George holds up one of his artworks, which features his signature style of painted donuts
Several of the Art Gang participants have sold dozens of pieces of work over the years, using the money to save up and pursue their dreams.
“George used his money to fulfil a goal to go to Uluru, and Duane saved up to get his own place down by the river. He could pay his own bond, all because of that injection of funds from working so hard on his art,” Sue said.
For Jimen man Duane Doyle – or DD as he’s known by his fellow Art Gang members – creativity is a natural way to lead a fulfilling life. He’s closely linked to the community in West End, where he facilitates community art classes at The Boundary Street Kiosk, where he has also painted murals where he led the community to add their contributions.
Duane says he thinks of his fellow Art Gang members as family
Duane says that when he arrived in Brisbane Art Gang helped him create connections and find his community.
“What we do here is very real and touching to my heart,” Duane said.
“I suffer from emotional trauma, and have had emotional breakdowns, but Art Gang has helped me through that. They’re like my brothers and sisters.
“And some are my elders. Family is really important to me, and I choose Art Gang to be my family.
“I can work creatively in the community now and be true to my mission of reconciliation, by breaking down the fear of Indigenous people amongst non-Indigenous people.
Art Gang is a program run by Community Plus+ at West End Community House. Community Plus+ Centres at West End, Yeronga and Annerley provide a space for people to meet, use the centre’s facilities, create connections and access support.
If you’re interested in viewing artworks from Art Gang, visit West End Community House on instagram or contact Sue Loveday on 0412 363 189.