Arts & Health Gippsland at a Glance

What does Arts & Health Gippsland do?

Paintings In Gallery
From a workshop using watercolours, stencils, and cutouts

Arts & Health Gippsland seeks out opportunities to increase the community’s health and wellbeing, through the various mediums of the visual arts. 

We offer art-making sessions:

  • one-on-one art tuition and art therapy
  • small group sessions of art tuition and discussion
  • sessions in series exploring a goal or theme

Arts & Health Gippsland can be contracted to consult on various arts practices and processes that might enhance the community’s health and wellbeing, in a range of scenarios.

What does Art have to do with Health?

Art making produces an “artwork”, but this is not the only thing it creates. Psychology research shows that when making art, your brain experiences two things that stimulate thriving. Firstly, you feel a challenge, when using a different medium in a different way to make a thing. Secondly, you experience aesthetic pleasure, where your five senses perceive a tactile reward from the immersive encounter.

If this is combined with a social connection (where you create with another person doing their own art making), there is an opportunity for great pleasure reward, and this promotes health. This is through a number of pathways:

  • pleasure releases endorphins which have a pain killing effect;
  • the combination of brain-challenge and aesthetic pleasure create a ‘flow’ state, where time loses meaning (which can aid in decreasing need for addictive substances like nicotine);
  • the combination of body and brain in a tactile activity creates increased dexterity, it maintains body flexibility (in the body areas used for the art-making), and it increases eye-hand coordination and cross-brain stimulation; and
  • the satisfaction following completion of an artwork increases self-confidence, which in turn can lift mood.


Bec Vandyk – Founder & Creative Director

Bec Vandyk

Bec is an artist who has been working in the Baw Baw Shire for the last 12 years in various mediums, both on individual projects and community participation events. 

After completing her Bachelor of Art in Ceramics in 1994, she continued into a Bachelor of Education, beginning work as an art teacher in Geelong. An ongoing interest in medical science led to a partial Applied Science degree, with study in microbiology and human physiology, and then completed a Bachelor of Psychological Science, with an Honours Thesis on the psychology of human emotions.

During this time, she became a mother and started to complete exhibitions and artistic works in the Baw Baw community, based on concepts of mothering and community building. Bec completed a Master of Public Health degree recently, majoring in women’s and adolescent health, and health promotion.


de Gelehut!

I’m so excited to tell you about this new-retro classroom, rescued from an old portables graveyard over in Central Victora. At the moment, it is a sleeping shell, that we plucked from out of the dust and weedy scrub, and placed in our muddy paddock. It’s waiting for its next life! Over time, I’ll bring …

Artists a-gathering

An update on the VicHealth funded project, Live WELL – COME Share. Expressions of Interest have been welcomed from local artists and community groups, to be involved in the art making process.


Making A Difference

The Long Term (long read)

Arts & Health Gippsland’s future goal is to augment the healthcare environment with the Arts.

This goal dreams of three big changes for local healthcare environments: Using artwork to recreate the visual space around where care for health is the priority; providing group sessions of art-making facilitation to co-exist alongside traditional rehabilitation, therapy, or treatment methods; and facilitating artist-in-residence programs to increase the sense of community within various healthcare settings. 

Barriers to embedding the arts in health:

Health Regulations

Achieving this goal would mean surmounting significant barriers. Firstly, wholistic healthcare must also protect privacy and integrity of care, so that each client can rely on their health needs being met with evidence-based methods, while having confidence that their information is protected. As such, current Australian regulations do not allow for the arts within the medical model. Therefore, implementing the arts to enhance health must firstly be within a research environment where the moral and ethical risks have been duly considered, or be offered outside the health system in the private sphere.

Art for the Elite?

Secondly, there is a wide perception that “Art” is an elite sphere of individuals with little relevance for those deeply concerned for their bodily health. This perception comes from the commercialised ‘art world’, where artworks are bought and sold for hugely inflated amounts. However, art in this context is more about the bouquet of flowers brought to bring colour to the bedside of someone with a chronic illness or injury, or the drawing given by a young relative that brings memories of past times of good health and energy. Art in this context is closer to the mind’s feelings of joy when experiencing a certain colour, or fragrance, or sound, or texture. This art enables a strong will and positive outlook, fuelled by colour, love, and joy – the psychosocial aspect of health promotion.

Only what is necessary

Finally, there are the practical barriers to implementing the arts within the healthcare space. With the recent necessary COVID-19 hyper-vigilance, any physical or human inclusion within the spaces where health and disease must coexist brings up questions of necessity. Who and what needs to be present in the space around a person with health needs? Yes, their healthcare practitioners, following evidence-based precautions and protocols. Yes, their loved-ones and families – who also follow protocol so as not to introduce unnecessary risk. But, perhaps also, a bright colourful image on the wall – suitably tested and maintained to ensure no pathogenic load – to distract the mind during pain, to invite a visual conversation, to invite perhaps a non-health conversation between health client and healthcare practitioner, to allow for the sharing of humanity rather than the power-unequal dialogue of ‘invalid’ and doctor. The focus of healthcare is not merely the absence of disease or the healing of bodily injury, but also the state of the mind, as the driver of self actualisation.


Contact Arts & Health Gippsland