A large crowd listens to the performance of the Red Inc Signing Choir at the launch of the Connecting Communities Program North Coast at the Northern RiversCommunity Gallery.
A large crowd listens to the performance of the Red Inc Signing Choir at the launch of the Connecting Communities Program North Coast at the Northern RiversCommunity Gallery. Doug Eaton

Artists show true ability

CUTTING-edge art was on display at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina on Saturday.

The Connecting Communities Program North Coast was launched and 14 disabled artists impressed 100 attendees with their creative talents.

The program aimed to "help artists living with a disability to gain access to mainstream opportunities", Accessible Arts officer North Coast Julie Barratt said.

One of the exhibited artworks, Magical Snake Box, belonged to Casino-based musician and visual artist Mark Dein. It was inspired by his love of music.

"This one is about dee-jaying, rapping and dancing," Mr Dein said. "It's made from chalk and pencil."

Mr Dein said the artwork only took 15 to 30 minutes to make.

A true all-round artist, Mr Dein also played drums and sang in a band called The Bridge at the launch. He had even designed special T-shirts for his band to wear during the performance.

It was a paid gig and the band will put the money towards travelling to Poland and performing at Unsound Festival this year.

Real Artworks member Sunita Bala knew many of the artists personally and said the event was "pushing boundaries".

"It's about changing people's perceptions of what they think art is and the peo- ple who make art. Regardless of what your ability is, it's about using art as a way to communicate," she said.

Ms Bala hoped people would be inspired by the exhibition.

"You want people to be inspired and you want people to walk away and say, 'Wow, I didn't know that was happening'," she said.

The singers in Red Inc Signing Choir who have disabilities and performed on the day received a rousing reception.



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