The strength of women forged in the fire of their children’s uncertain start to life and of female artists working in a man’s world is at the heart of Scenic Rim Regional Council’s new exhibition opening at The Centre Beaudesert this month.

Women’s Work, which runs from Friday 19 February to 26 March, brings together the exhibitions of Early, by Emma Thorp, and Welded Hearts, by Melissa Carey and Colleen Lavender, in a fusion of artistic styles and expressions of emotion that will both strike a chord with and tug at the heartstrings of many in the community.

Early maps artist Emma Thorp’s journey which began with her son’s premature birth through to a diagnosis of autism and ADHD, exposing the emotions experienced by parents and honouring those who work tirelessly with families to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Welded Hearts, by Melissa Carey and Colleen Lavender, shares stories of courage and resilience, also with an underlying message of hope.

A digital and mixed media artist, Emma Thorp has drawn on her life experience, combining sketches, photography and memories to create detailed images that provide a glimpse into a world that can often be very insular and all-consuming.

After her son, Alby, was born 14 weeks early, Emma experienced fear, guilt, regret, frustration and isolation and, juggling her own desires and commitments with those of the hospital, her husband and eldest child, was left feeling inadequate and deficient.

“He was born on 8 October 2010. His full-term due date would have been 9 January 2011,” she said.

“When he was born, Alby weighed 1100 grams (2 lbs 4 oz), fortunately a good weight for his age.

“He had many of the typical setbacks that extremely premature babies have – jaundice, anaemia, eye problems, brain haemorrhage, heart issues and breathing issues – but battled and became stronger and after 78 days between the Mater Mothers’ Brisbane and Toowoomba Base Hospital Special Care, Alby was able to come home.”

Sculptures, art installations and interactive works feature in the Welded Hearts exhibition by Melissa Carey and Colleen Lavender.

“As women, we speak from our heart,” Melissa said.

“In hard times, we gather together in community, we share our stories, and we hold space for others to express emotions.

“Art helps us process our thoughts and emotions, that sometimes we don’t have words for. It gives us a voice, it helps us, as women, speak our truth and show courage.”

Scenic Rim artist Colleen Lavender is renowned for her ability to turn cold scrap metal into beautiful sculptures that radiate warmth.

“By using the technique of welding, which is seen as masculine, we find our own ways to combine our feminine elements and show our resilience through this hard and strong medium,” she said.

“Through our art, we share our stories of courage, bravery and resilience, and spread our message of hope to the community.”

The launch of Women’s Work on Saturday 20 February is open to all members of the Scenic Rim community and is presented in partnership with WOW (Women of the World) Australia, a Queensland initiative aligned with the global WOW Foundation supporting action and change for women and girls.

Hosted by Scenic Rim Councillor Virginia West, the launch opens with a morning tea and exhibition viewing from 10.30am, followed by a panel discussion with the artists and WOW Executive Producer Cathy Hunt, and concluding with guided tours of the exhibition by the artists.

Free tickets to the exhibition launch are available online at www.liveatthecentre.com.au or by phoning 5540 5050. As this is a COVID-safe event with limited places, all tickets will be issued as allocated seating.

For groups, please be sure to register all attendees when booking tickets to assist with seat allocation.