6 Oct 2022 — 2 Nov 2022



Frankston Arts Centre 

27 – 37 Davey St
Frankston 3199


Tuesday to Friday: 10am – 5pm
Saturday: 9am – 2pm
Sunday: Closed
Monday: Closed

Exhibition launch: Thursday October 13 6pm – 8pm, Cube 37

Poetic Portraits: Poetry for Community Wellbeing in Frankston promotes poetry as a way to connect with and convey the experiences of women over 18 living in Frankston who are impacted by mental health struggles and/or other challenges to wellbeing. 

This project is supported by Frankston Arts Centre, RMIT Culture and Deakin University. 


Poetic Portraits aims to recognise and raise awareness of the diversity of mental health, well-being and isolation issues in the Frankston population – especially as they are experienced by women. Through poetry workshops for women based in and around Frankston, and one-on-one interviews with participants, the project aims to connect with and listen more effectively to women’s voices within the community, and to instil a sense of sharing and belonging through creativity. 

An exhibition, book publication and live reading event at Cube 37 will feature project outcomes, including portraits of each participant, by Frankston-based visual artist Caroline Graley, alongside the poems they produced through the workshops. 

Artist Biography

Caroline Graley

Caroline Graley is a multidisciplinary Australian artist known for her sculpture, installations, figurative paintings and drawings. She has been a finalist in the Portia Geach Portrait Prize, semi-finalist in the Moran Portrait Prize and winner of the Prime Minister’s Award for her Portraits of History Community Arts Project. Caroline’s work examines aspects of the ‘felt sense’ or inner experiencing of the human subject in movement. 

Jennifer Harrison

Jennifer Harrison has written eight books of poetry, most recently Anywhy (Black Pepper 2018). A new book Sideshow History will be published in 2022. She manages The Dax Poetry Collection housed in the Dax Centre at the University of Melbourne and is Chair of the World Psychiatry Association’s Art and Psychiatry Section. 

Cassandra Atherton

Cassandra Atherton is a widely anthologised and award-winning prose poet and scholar of prose poetry. She co-authored Prose Poetry: An Introduction (Princeton University Press, 2020) and co-edited the Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry (Melbourne University Press, 2020) with Paul Hetherington. She is a commissioning editor for Westerly magazine, associate editor of MadHat Press (USA) and Professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University.  

Jessica Wilkinson

Jessica Wilkinson is the author of three poetic biographies, most recently Music Made Visible: A Biography of George Balanchine (Vagabond, 2019). With Cassandra Atherton, she co-edited Memory Book: Portraits of Older Australians in Poetry and Watercolours (Hunter, 2021). She is the founding editor of Rabbit: a journal for nonfiction poetry and Associate Professor in Creative Writing at RMIT University. 


In partnership with Frankston local council and Frankston Arts Centre, this project–a pilot program for a broader state and nation-wide program–uses poetry as a way to connect with, and convey, the experiences of women who are impacted by mental health struggles and other challenges to wellbeing and belonging. The project emphasises individual participation in arts and culture in the local Frankston community, providing accessible inter-art experiences to participants with little or no writing experience. The program introduces members of a community to skills that will enable ongoing creative expression as a form of resistance and resilience, and ultimately to inspire them to continue to engage with creative modes of conveying and sharing experiences. 

This pilot project involves two poetry-writing workshops for women who live in Frankston, which will result in locally-based public outcomes, including an exhibition, publication and a live reading event. The project leaders (Atherton & Wilkinson) will also conduct one-on-one interviews with participants, to connect with and listen more effectively to women’s voices within the community, and to understand the challenges they face in relation to social isolation, loneliness and belonging. The interviews will be used by Atherton & Wilkinson to write a documentary poem that speaks to the community’s challenges and strengths. It will be published alongside the women’s own poems in the publication. 

Through these combined activities, the project aims to promote change both on an individual level (evoking inspiration, a sense of belonging and identity, and a way to creatively express oneself) and at a community level (evoking a sense of shared responsibility and advocacy, as well as a sense of social togetherness). By giving people and local communities a voice—through art-making and arts practice, we encourage an understanding and experience of the power of poetry and poetry-making to enact social change and as a means to be heard. 

How to Engage

On Thursday 13 October, join us for the launch of the Poetic Portraits exhibition and publication at Cube 37, featuring readings of poems by the participants alongside the artworks related to their writing.  

The publication will be available for purchase for the duration of the exhibition and at the event launch.

Installation / Project Team

Jessica Wilkinson, Cassandra Atherton, Milla Dakovic, Cath Hedge and Monica Batey.