First Floor Program celebrates 10 years of empowering artists
BY LAUREN MARTIN
This year marked the 10th and final Jayne Wilson Memorial Art Exhibition, held annually at Wollongong Corps (NSW) in honour of the founder of The Salvation Army First Floor Program.
The Jesus-centred program is a holistic and family-inclusive counselling and support service for those impacted by alcohol and drug misuse, mental health issues, trauma, grief and loss.
For the past decade, the exhibition has honoured the legacy of Jayne, who started the program in 1996 but sadly died after a short battle with cancer on Christmas Day 2013.
The exhibition was established in her memory because she was a passionate artist who incorporated artistic practices into the First Floor Program. An art for healing program still meets weekly.
The theme for this year’s exhibition in January was ‘Whole’, and artists were invited to create pieces that reflected their interpretation of the word. The winners were announced at a ceremony last week:
Winner, Open category: Victor Agius – ‘Reaching Out’
Winner, Youth category: George Williams – ‘Benevolent Perception’
Winner, Child category: Tyson Keen – ‘Love the World Around You’
Winner, Spirit Award: Maria Bubb – ‘Just Smile’
Winner, People’s Choice: Emma King – ‘Healed and Whole’
At the ceremony, Jayne’s family honoured her memory and legacy.
Her daughter, Kim McMullan, spoke on behalf of the family: “It’s been a decade since Mum departed from our lives, but her legacy has continued to shine through the vibrant and diverse masterpieces that have graced this space.
“Over the past 10 years, these exhibitions have been more than thematic showcases; they have been a testament to the enduring spirit of a woman who shaped not just my families’ worlds but the lives of many, especially those fortunate enough to know her.”
Kim also paid tribute to long-time First Floor Program staff – Marilyn Dunn (Coordinator), Maris Depers (Psychologist) and Lisa Clancy (Family Support Worker) – thanking them for their hard work and commitment to the exhibition and keeping Jayne’s spirit alive through the ongoing work of the First Floor Program.
The ceremony also celebrated the work of Maris, who is stepping down after almost 18 years of supporting individuals and families within the Illawarra through the program.
Maris made significant contributions to the program and the wider Salvation Army, writing many articles for Army publications and websites and contributing regularly to The Salvation Army’s former radio program, Salvos Radio. He was also the resident psychologist for radio station 103.2.
“In an article for the Daily Telegraph, Maris said, “We need to be brave enough to look inside and understand our own fears and sensitive enough to understand those of others. The only way we will ever achieve this is by recommitting to calmness, reason and goodwill to extinguish the flames, by continually making the choice to walk in the world we would like to live in.”
Major Robyn Black recounted in a speech farewelling him: “Maris, you’ve made such a difference in people’s lives, given hope, brought light into dark places. We do give thanks to God for you.”