Caitilin Punshon

Caitilin Punshon
Caitilin Punshon

After more than 20 years with a debilitating chronic illness, I'm still trying to find ways to live well. I strive to make meaning from my experiences but it doesn't always work. Visual art fascinates me and I also like playing with words. I'm curious about how people see the world, the marks we make and the stories we tell.

After more than 20 years with a debilitating chronic illness, I'm still trying to find ways to live well. I strive to make meaning from my experiences but it doesn't always work.

Caitilin Punshon's articles

Two wedding rings.
Engagement_rings_777

"The sense of belonging is the best thing so far."

Two of my friends got married recently. I wasn't able to attend the wedding. It was held overseas. My friends are both men. They can not legally be married in Australia. People have strong views about same-sex marriage. I know some think homosexuality is wrong. But I don't see the problem with two people in love getting married. Not allowing same-sex couples to do so is discrimination. Most people with disability know how discrimination feels. The situation is unfair and unjust. But as my friends remind me, marriage is about love. Plain and simple.
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An empty and full film reel.
film reel

Taking the viewer on a journey.

The Other Film Festival is held every two years. It shows films by, with or about people with disability. Entries for this year’s festival are open until 30 April. Rick Randall is its artistic director. He says it is rare for first-time filmmakers to have their work selected. But Gemma Falk’s first film screened at the festival in 2012. It has since been shown overseas. Rick advises beginners to seek support from experienced filmmakers. People can also contribute to the Other Film Festival as volunteers. The festival will run from 3 to 7 December 2014.
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Pencils in an upright container.
pencils

The progam will fund good art.

The Australia Council for the Arts is our national arts funding and advisory body. They have a new Artists with Disability Program. Individuals and groups can apply for funding. Morwenna Collett is the Australia Council’s Disability Coordinator. She hopes many people will apply for the program. A lot of high quality applications might mean it continues beyond 2014. Morwenna is sure the program will fund good art. Information sessions about the Artists with Disability Program will be held around the country. Details can be found on the Australia Council website.
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A close-up of gingerbread men biscuits.
A close-up of gingerbread men biscuits.

I make them with a happy heart.

We all have a lot of stuff. Now Christmas is coming. Most of us will be giving and receiving even more stuff. But we don’t have to. We can think differently about giving gifts this Christmas. We can donate to charities. We can also offer our skills and abilities as gifts to others. One skill I have is baking gingerbread. I make it every Christmas for family and friends. I’m sharing the recipe here as a gift to you. I hope you find ways to share your gifts this Christmas.
2 comments - last comment on 23/12/2013
A painting of an old man with a white beard wearing a hat. The man looks lost.
OldMan

Traditional Art

This National Gallery of Victoria held an access evening for their winter masterpieces exhibition Monet's Garden. The exhibition featured over 60 paintings by Impressionist artist Claude Monet. Around 50 people attended the access evening. A range of tours were offered on the night. Visitors learned about the visual impairment Monet experienced. They could see how this affected his artwork. The access evening gave people time and space to enjoy Monet's magnificent paintings. Hopefully the National Gallery of Victoria will run more events like this.
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Michelle Waterfall and Richard Smythe performing in a play. Michelle is wearing a blonde wig and Richard has a hood on his head with large rabbit-style ears.
Arts Access - Michelle Waterfall and Richard Smythe

Artists with disabilities will keep making art, whether they are "tolerated" or not.

Earlier this year, former Minister for the Arts Simon Crean annoyed disability advocates by encouraging a culture of tolerance towards artists with disabilities. As a result, Arts Access Victoria organised a forum to discuss moving beyond tolerance . Artists and representatives from arts organisations attended the forum. Many ideas were raised. These included issues of access, opportunity and funding. Several speakers thought more diverse representation on funding bodies would cause cultural change. The forum did not solve any problems. But the people who attended it will still find ways to make art accessible and meaningful.
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close up of hand painting with paintbrush
close up of hand painting with paintbrush

Reverie is an exhibition that is rich in both ideas and possibilities.

The current exhibition at The Dax Centre in Melbourne is called Reverie. The name refers to a state of creative imagination. Many of The Dax Centre's past exhibitions have been about mental illness. This one shows some more hopeful aspects of that experience. Reverie is explored through key themes. These include connecting with people, being in the natural world and feeling calm in certain spaces. Some of the art is about night and dreams. Many works use colour to express emotion. The exhibition gives viewers a chance to experience reverie for themselves.
4 comments - last comment on 29/08/2013
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Brightly coloured paints on a paintbrush
bright_paint

All the art in this collection has been created by people with experience of mental illness and trauma.

There is a special place in the grounds of the University of Melbourne. It is called The Dax Centre. This is where the Cunningham Dax Collection of art is held. All the art in this collection has been created by people with experience of mental illness and trauma. A visit to The Dax Centre gallery can be confronting. However, the art there can teach us a lot about the human experience. Looking at it may cause sad thoughts. But hope can always be found in the exhibitions too.
4 comments - last comment on 29/07/2013
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A pile of dark rocks on a white background
small_stones

Our lives are made up of ordinary moments that can be made extraordinary.

Stones and rocks have an important place in our lives. We might not notice this. But it is true. The small stones and daily rocks in this article offer ways to view the world differently. Small stones are brief pieces of writing. They describe a particular moment in detail. Writing small stones helps us become more aware. We can all learn to write small stones. Daily rocks are messages. These encourage us to consider our thoughts and actions. Both small stones and daily rocks allow us to become more mindful and more kind.
3 comments - last comment on 03/07/2013
Unhappy woman talking with her doctor.
doctor_complaint

A good relationship with your health provider is important

A good relationship with your health provider is important. But sometimes problems can arise. They can be difficult to resolve. Dr Grant Davies is Victoria's Acting Health Services Commissioner. He suggests people approach their health providers directly. Sometimes providers don't realise there is a problem. People can also make more formal complaints. All Australian states and territories have organisations to deal with these complaints. There is also a national agency to investigate more serious matters. Complaints can help improve our healthcare system. It worthwhile remembering that it's ok to complain.
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