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Arts and Health Australia

Hello Koalas joins Texas Children's Hospital


The Hello Koalas Sculpture Project, an initiative of Arts and Health Australia, was proud to participate in the Global Alliance for Arts and Health conference at Texas Children's Hospital, Houston in April 2014.

Hello Koalas Sculpture Project (www.hellokoalas.com) is designed as a community cultural development program in the Port Macquarie Hastings region, with many layers and contexts including an Art, Poetry and Dementia program, supported by the NSW Government to promote dementia friendly communities in New South Wales.

Conference delegates were invited to contribute their fingerprints to create an overall design on a one metre high fibreglass koala sculpture, ensuring that all attending were represented in a personal and lasting way. Each fingerprint celebrated each delegate's distinctive and unique sense of identity and place within the global arts and health community and created a permanent record of the 25th anniversary arts and health conference - through the acquisition of the sculpture for the art collection of the Texas Children's Hospital.


It is also significant that the koala, a species under threat, is only one of two animals, which has an individual fingerprint. Each koala has a different fingerprint from other koalas, as in humans. This reinforces the links between humanity and nature and the importance of koala care and conservation to preserve the species and environmental sustainability. (Pick which image above is the human handprint?!)

We hope this collaborative art-making experience reinforced the important message that the field of Arts and Health is a creative pathway to health and wellbeing because its practice recognises the core and intrinsic value of all people - irrespective of culture and circumstance. And it was definitely good fun with lots of camaraderie.

Thanks to Helen Currier and the team at Texas Children's Hospital for supporting the Hello Koalas initiative at the Alliance for Arts and Health International Conference in Houston. 

We plan to reprise the idea and take a koala sculpture to Melbourne for our 6th annual international conference at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne from 11 to 13 November 2014. See you there!