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Jayne Wilson Arts Exhibition calls for entries

The late Jayne Wilson, who was passionate about combining the creative arts with her counselling ministry.


The annual Jayne Wilson Memorial Arts Exhibition – the largest of its kind in the Australia Territory – will be open for its 10th anniversary event from 19-29 January 2024.

The Salvation Army First Floor Program (FFP) team will host the exhibition at Wollongong Corps (NSW).

The exhibition honours the legacy of Jayne Wilson who established the First Floor Program in the NSW city in 1996. This 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. 


The theme for the exhibition is ‘whole’.

“We chose that theme, knowing that at this point in our community, people are trying to make sense of what it means to be whole – individually or as a family, community or nation,” explained Maris Depers, a psychologist with the First Floor program. “It’s a fitting theme to allow people to explore what that means to them including socially, individually or spiritually.”


The featured artist this year is not an individual, as it has been in the past. “We are instead featuring the work of a Salvation Army partnership,” says Maris.

“The local Carinya Cottage women’s accommodation has an active arts program and runs a community meal and culture program for local Indigenous families in conjunction with the Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation (a local Aboriginal organisation dedicated to raising the esteem, pride and dignity of young Aboriginal people in their Aboriginal culture and heritage).


“The weekly kids’ meal and cultural program is run by The Salvation Army’s Carinya Cottage women’s accommodation service at the First Floor Program’s Foundery Family Centre in Port Kembla.


Jayne’s legacy

After Jayne passed away on Christmas Day 2013, the First Floor program team were looking for a way to honour her passion for art, and her vision and approach to recovery and community.

“She loved art and was a practising artist,” says Maris. “She also embedded artistic practices into the activities, programs and therapeutic groups of the First Floor program. So, the exhibition is an ideal way to honour her legacy and celebrate the power of creativity.”


There is a drop-in art group each week, in Port Kembla, Wollongong, Sanctuary Point and Bateman’s Bay, as well as an online group. The FFP’s suicide bereavement support groups also use art in practice to honour the memories of their loved ones by died by suicide.


“The exhibition is an activity that holds a very special place for our service,” Maris shares. “Each year, one of the really beautiful things is that there is a ‘co-mingling’ of different art expressions – feature works, art therapy group works, displays from craft groups, professional practising artists and people telling their own journey of recovery. We don’t make any distinctions, and I find that really beautiful.”


Jayne’s extended family are also involved in the exhibition each year and chooses winners for the Wilson Family and the Jayne Spirit awards.

Exhibition categories include child, youth and open, with prizes in each category. Any works of creative expression are accepted and can include but are not limited to painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, musical composition, written expression, fabric art and mosaic.


Entry forms for the exhibition close on 5 January 2024. They can be downloaded from the website and returned via email:


Hard copies can be posted to: The Salvation Army First Floor Program,

P.O. Box 1185, Wollongong 2500

Artwork on the promotional poster is from Tameka, a participant of the community meal and culture program.


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