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Lived Experience Art Exhibition – 16 Days of Activism 2022

Respect Women: Call it out (Respect is)

The United Nation’s campaign ’16 Days of Activism 2022

An initiative presented by The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre  and the Barwon Area Integrated Family Violence Committee

Drawing on the lived experience of women in our local community impacted by sexual and family violence, this 16 Days of Activism initiative highlights their journey toward recovery from violence through creatively expressing what ‘respect is’ means to them.

A respectful community is a safe, creative and prosperous society. Respect supports the prevention of violence against women and girls and creates a gender equitable culture within the community.

Prevention of gender-based violence is possible. It starts with us.

We acknowledge the strength and resilience of all victim survivors of sexual and family violence and we recognise that our efforts must be informed by the voices and lived experience of victim survivors.

We thank Respect Victoria and Safe and Equal for funding this Lived Experience Art Exhibition.

Attend the Lived Experience Art Exhibition: 

When: Tuesday 6 December 2022 – Friday 3 February 2023

Where: Geelong Library and Heritage Centre (the dome)

We hope the exhibition ignites conversations within the Barwon community to join specialist services in preventing violence against women.



Artist | Edwina

Edwina’s work is a manifestation of her own view of the natural world. The dominant colour of green in her work gives her that initial invitation to explore her surroundings, nature and where it leads her. She has no preconceptions, the work provides her with the invitation to be free. She chose to introduce a letter into her work, the ”E” represents her name and her individualism.  There is no silence in her art, no boundaries, just freedom and realisation.

Space for my Light to Shine

Artist | Gosha

This piece reflects the artist’s longing for her own divine and perfect light to shine. Letting all those colours come out through her artwork. The light that was almost extinguished through lack of acceptance and no space to express herself. Her art practice provides her with ‘the space’ for her to grow and shine her light. Her colourful expressions reflect the joy that comes from letting all her light come out. Gosha expressed that the brightness and colour in her work comes from the affirmations that define who she is today:

“I am worthy”

“I am brightly colourful”

“I am loved”

“I am beautiful”

“I am proud to be a loving mother”

A powerful and moving piece that defines how re-igniting love for oneself is truly powerful and colourful.

Mirror Image

Artist | Antoniette

Antoinette was inspired by the sequences of doubles. She experimented with revealing images and reflecting them back to her, like you would if you looked in a mirror. She enjoyed using different textures and colours to create petals and layering them to reveal repeat patterns and duplicity in her work.

The art guides her to invite people into her reflection, creating connections and separation by the various layers on the page. Her art practice has a rhythm, like creating a dance, where your partner is mirroring your movements. The rhythm has purpose, meaning and flow.

Seedpods Hatching

Artist | Sally

This piece was inspired by a walk the artist took with her young son, his innocence and his simple yet profound insight into nature. Sally passed an overgrown garden with large blooming bottlebrush leaning over the path. She closely studied the flowers in bud and showed them to her son. Her son said “look mum, the flowers are hatching”. Like rebirth, the flowers truly are reborn each time they bloom. Sally’s son so beautifully understood the beauty of these blooms and how they revealed themselves. Sally’s artistic reflection centred around the symbolism these seed pods conveyed. An enduring symbol of rebirth and renewal.


Artist | Leah D

Leah approached her work through the exploration of abstract shapes and her art practice developed through her experimentation in abstraction. She wanted to explore her practice intuitively without constraints, creating a visual that she could relate to and find comfort in. She was drawn to purple, a dominant colour in many of the works she created, this piece was one of several. The colours explored allowed her to express shapes in the abstract form, leaving her empowered and at peace.

Room to Breathe

Artist | Tegan

Tegan finds her breath through the art practice of blending colours, starting with blues and purples which gently centre her as she works horizontally across the page. Blues and purples act as a sense of calm and serenity for her with her deep love of water and crystals.

As she blends into the stronger oranges and red colours these represent more overwhelming feelings and back into the blues and purples that bring her back to calmness.

Practicing art gives Tegan in her words the “room to breathe” and her eagerness to express herself in ways words are incapable of. Her journey is generational, Tegan’s life ambition is to break the chain. To reclaim her own voice. Tegan’s affirmations were so poignantly expressed, she has bravely and courageously shared them with us:

“My feelings are my own – no one can take that from me”

“I am in the present”

“I am me and only me”

“I am free, free from being controlled or stopped”


Artist | Emily

Emily’s art practice was developed around the theme of “glow”. Emily sees the glow as a visual for growth. Emily wanted to emulate the ceramic art practice of Kintsugi (meaning: golden joinery) also known as Kintsukuroi (meaning golden repair) which is the Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery and plates. It is described as the art of repairing or mending an area of breakage with a lacquer dusted in gold and silver, hence the metallic glow portrayed in this piece. The art practice and the artwork itself is deeply centred around repairing breakage, seeing the beauty in repair and celebrating an object / or person for all its flaws. Embracing these flaws, rather than seeing it as something to hide away from or disguise.

Hopes and Dreams

Artist | Helen

Helen’s art practice was centred around creating a flow and tapping into her own energy. The sense of safety, of blooming, of coming out gave her the courage to express herself through her art. Comfort, safety and being in the moment where important foundations to her creativity journey. Above all, Helen’s work is about looking forward, having hopes and dreams and being empowered to take that next step in her journey.

Flying Free

Artist | Donna

The beauty of Donna’s work is the sense of happiness that emanates from her work. Donna’s soul is quietly flying free as she presents her favourite colours of yellow and orange to represent her immense happiness. Her work represents a bird, freed from capture, flying free and uplifting her own spirit. Nothing makes her happier than to see more happiness and confidence in others. The letter R stood out to her when she started her work, and her colour selection reflects her ray of confidence.

A breath of growth

Artist | Jennifer

Jennifer’s art practice started with an exploration of the concept of growth. Her work slowly transformed organically as she worked instinctively and fluidly.  As a tree emerged on the page, Jennifer discovered that the tree roots resembled something else.  She turned the piece upside down and the tree roots morphed into a set of lungs. She had, in that moment, discovered her breath and the freedom to see things in a new way. To let go of preconceptions and let the art speak for itself. Her art practice lifted her energy and she expressed what she saw in the piece:

“I am able to breathe”

“I am unlimited”

“breathing in life and energy”

“I am free to spread out and grow”

“I see things from a new perspective”


Artist | Anonymous

The art practice commenced with an invitation to step into the present. She started with the letter T. She started by studying the formation of the letter. She then explored bold colour, layered textures and depth. Whilst immersing herself in the present she expressed how refreshing it was to dip her toe into the art world. She likened her artistic journey with the practice of cold water emersion.  The feeling of holding your breath and going under the water – that refreshment – that surprise you feel when you hit the surface of the cold water. How liberating it is to scream at the top of your lungs and feel renewed. As these metaphors flooded her consciousness, she saw herself emerge from a bud into a flower. It was liberating. Her soul was full.

Swept Away

Artist | Nicole

Nicole’s artwork was centred around recovery and repair. She wanted to explore and express where she is at right now and in the present. The areas of her work that are fuzzy and in darkness depict her past – where she was.  The colour introduced depicts her new horizons and the act of leaving the past behind. As colours rapidly change she looks beyond the horizon and sees hope. The green leaves depict the wind and the act of sweeping away from the past to refreshment and renewal.

The Inner Child

Artist | Leah

Leah created an artwork that allowed her to work through things that trigger her and the other things in her life that allow her to create stability. This artwork provides her with a “snapshot” of her own barriers, traumas and the little things that still trigger her.  The symbolism of the hand has been introduced to narrate her story. The larger hand represents the hand of society, its power and its judgments. The smaller hand represents her inner child and her courage in reaching out and seeking connection. Her greatest gift in life has been to learn to love herself, completely.

Ebb and Flow

Artist | Lauren

Lauren’s art practice was centred around the joy of experimentation. Her letter of choice was the letter C. Lauren recently lost a family member who she cherished whose name started with C. She was drawn to this, to honour her relative. The pop of colour represents the spirit and energy of her relative that has passed. Her work also depicts the flow of the wind and the shapes these shadows create. These ebbs and flows depict similar peaks and troughs that exist in life and beyond.

A Gift

Artist | Anonymous

Soft textures represent the pain caused by family violence. Natural materials represent grounding in nature as a tool to strengthen self. I gift myself boundaries to contain the instability caused by family violence.

The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of the land we stand on. We are committed to working toward creating a community where all people indigenous and non-indigenous are safe, connected and empowered to live well. The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre recognises the diverse needs of our community and we ensure our services are inclusive of all children, young people and their families including those who are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, those who identify as LGBTIQ and persons living with disability. We work collaboratively with people and partner organisations who also support our diverse client group. Interpreter and translator services are available to all our clients upon request.

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