Case Study - No Shame No Silence Art Exhibition
Most of us are touched by family violence in our lives, through our own experiences, family, friends, or colleagues. In August 2107 a group of women marched to Parliament in the wind and rain to deliver a petition signed by over 2,800 people demanding a Royal High Commission of Enquiry into the New Zealand Family Court. This march inspired Mai I te Pō ki te Ao Mārama No Shame No Silence exhibition, born to generate conversation about family violence and the implementation of family violence legislation in our Family Courts.
As a self-directed project, we wanted to create more awareness, to cultivate conversations and empower people to talk about their stories. To be the creative driving force in creating and curating an exhibition that gave a platform for survivors/victims of family violence to have their say through art, to give them a voice, to empower them to tell their story and encourage others to do the same. All whilst raising money for Backbone Collective and the local Women’s Refuge.
Family violence is New Zealand’s great shame. It’s happening in our communities. It breeds in silence. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. No Shame No Silence are shining light on family violence and the family court system’s response to survivors of family violence. It’s time to shine a light.
Let’s work backwards here, just to be jaunty. The No Shame No Silence exhibition featured over 20 artists from all over New Zealand who were given the platform to comment freely on experience, observation and perspectives through their chosen art medium.
The background to this was at times challenging, rewarding, joyful, painful, heart rending and heart expanding. There is a saying in exhibition management that you can be a creator, or a curator, but not both. Yeah, whatever. We were both.
We set the tone for the entire exhibition by creating the brand using the beautiful Kawakawa leaf as the hero. The bright green heart-shaped leaves of Kawakawa are a distinctive presence in the New Zealand bush, and Kawakawa medicinal properties are equally distinctive. Traditionally used by Māori not only as a medicine but also as a significant part of many ceremonies, Kawakawa is an important part of both the physical and spiritual worlds and revered for its innate healing power. The use of the two Kawakawa, one intact leaf (grief), enveloping the bug eaten leaf (healing).
As the project manager (ably supported by the wonderful volunteers) we were the creative force behind by:
- Designing of the youth project
- Ensuring diverse voices were heard
- Meeting with and involving local iwi
- Creating AND curating artwork
- Developing the social media campaign
- Designing the website
- Designing and producing the supporting marketing material
- Designing and producing internal and external exhibition signage
- Managing the petition
- Marching on Parliament (in the rain... again)
- Managing the launch event
- Engaging and managing all exhibition pieces
There was so much to do, and we had to wear so many hats on this project! As a curator, designer, project lead, project manager we wore them all. We juggled all the moving parts and we had to remember where each part was at, at all times. We had to manage various committees including local iwi and partnered with numerous businesses and organisations. We sought funding, and at all times we had to ensure the space was safe and comfortable for people to tell their stories – warning banners, links to resources, and support phone numbers. And tissues. Lots of tissues.
An exhibition that we were all so very, very proud of.
This project took me on a journey of self-discovery and self-reckoning. At times I was way out of my comfort zone. That said we don’t develop if we stay in our comfort zone forever, now do we. The exhibition caught the attention of local and national media and with that came interviews and photo requests from NZ Herald, Manawatu Standard and TV One. The exhibition was attended in great numbers, over $5,000 was raised and feedback was fabulous. Our voice was heard. And light was shone. The youth project coordinator sent the Prime Minister a letter that was well received and responded to.
“This exhibition is unique”
Councillor, Horowhenua District Council
“A message of hope that I give, is that events such as this, driven by Sarah-Jayne Shine, to invent this project, No Shame No Silence, is all about that profile, that is just so important. So, my message is, while there are people in this community, prepared to stand up and acknowledge the issue, there is hope”
Former Mayor, Horowhenua District Council
“Thank you for your efforts in starting and continuing the conversation about domestic violence and the way the Family Court is treating women in New Zealand”
Human Rights Commission
"Being part of this exhibition, is a huge milestone in finding my power again, to have it out there with no shame”
“They have shone a light on violence, by providing a vehicle - through art and sculpture - to express and create pieces which convey, what cannot be articulated.”
You can find more examples of work from this exhibition in our Portfolio.