The Atherton Gardens estate in Fitzroy has been transformed by its resident children as a result of XSite, a Visionary Images’ pioneering creative project. The project, generously supported by Gandel Foundation, is aimed at middle-year children who are increasingly experiencing difficulties.
Through creative workshops with artists from Visionary Images, the children have explored their lives and the environment around them, focusing on their meaning of and feelings about home. From initial thoughts about their own homes, then moving out into the rest of the estate, then their suburb, city and into the wider world, they came to the conclusion that all these places are our home and need to be looked after. The young people, collaborating with the artists, developed this idea into a neon artwork that reminds us we all belong in this world and that it is ‘Our Home’.
The permanently installed artwork now shines from the fifth floor of one of the towers that house the children and their families. The letters that make up this work are the children’s actual handwriting, and are a powerful visual reminder from them of the importance of belonging and having a safe place to call home.
XSite is inspiring the children’s creative self-expression and is increasing their self-esteem, resilience and wellbeing. It is opening up new ways of thinking and igniting a passion for learning, which is stimulating positive self-determination, leading to their social and cultural inclusion.
Through art-making and its highly visible public exhibition, the Atherton estate children have not only transformed themselves and their environment, but have also had an impact on enlarging the views of their families and other residents.
This and other artworks they are showing on and around the estate reach out to the community, hoping to transform their perceptions of those whose homes are in public housing.