10 Feb 2022 — 11 Feb 2022

BOOK HERE for The Big Reach 2 day intensive

Additional event: WHAT I KNOW NOW THAT CAN CHANGE THE WORLD – a program focused on ageing will run on Wed 9 Feb, 1-4pm Click here for more information 

Additional event: The Big Anxiety Open Day. A one day free event open to all. Sat 12 Feb, 9:30-2:30. Click here for more information.

VENUE: QUT Gardens Theatre, 2 George Street, Brisbane QLD

Join us for two days of creative engagements, in-depth conversations, sideshows and workshops, reimagining the future of mental health and emotional wellbeing through a creative lens. 

The Big Reach is designed for anyone interested in arts, mental health, trauma, suicide prevention and general wellbeing from a lived experience, creative or professional point of view. 

This experience-focused event is intended to be inspiring, stimulating, uplifting, deep, challenging, practical and, at the same time, enjoyable. 

The format offers participants the chance to engage with ground-breaking arts practice, to share expertise and insights through curated conversations, and to establish new connections and collaborations. 

We welcome anyone who would like to be part of the conversation. 


Join us to discover and share

  • innovative methods for working creatively with trauma, anxiety, mental distress, suicidality and crisis
  • creative tools and practices for enhancing personal and community mental health
  • opportunities for collaboration between health workers, communities and artists.
  • ways to extend the reach of mental health support — and design for a better future.

Day 1

Creative/cultural approaches to mental health, lived experience, trauma and survival 

Day 2

Making change – rethinking systems, services, interventions and imagining the future 

The Big Reach Full Program – Download Here

Each day includes:

  • simultaneous creative workshops, demonstrations and sideshows
  • performance-presentations by innovative creative thinkers working at the intersection of arts, health and lived experience
  • dynamic conversations in relaxed and engaging formats

Presenters delivering workshops and leading conversations include

Marianne Wobckea Girrimay woman from North Queensland, born on Wakka Wakka land; nurse, midwife and award-winning artist whose program of culturally connected birthing practices and trauma recovery is grounded in radical creativity, aiming to break the cycles of trauma that are the inheritance of colonial violence in Indigenous Australian communities. Marianne Wobcke is the 2021 recipient of the Australia Council Ros Bower Award for Community Arts and Cultural Development. She will share her insights into cultural connection as a means to addressing trauma.

Minola Theatre: Kat Dekker and Kat Bhathena (Arts For Inclusion) who are working with community groups, using forum theatre to develop enactments to be presented at The Big Reach, along with their workshops on ‘machines for change’.

fEEL Lab (Jill Bennett, Professor of arts and mental health; founder of The Big Anxiety; Volker Kuchelmeister, immersive media artist; Gail Kenning, participatory designer-researcher; Lydia Gitau, refugee trauma specialist/counselling psychologist). fEEL will run workshops on Augmented Reality [AR] 3D digital-story telling – linked to the Hard Place/Good Place project — and will talk about applications of their work in diverse community settings.

Evonne  Miller, Professor and director of QUT Design Lab –  will lead a design sprint on systems change for improving mental health and suicide prevention in regional and rural areas — as well as co-hosting workshops on poetry/writing.

Katherine Boydell’s (professor of mental health) team from Blackdog Institute will run Bodymapping sessions – and will also talk about their project ‘Under the Radar’ on tackling the challenge of connecting with people to talk about suicidal feelings.

Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson is hosting a workshop on individual and collective writing. Founder of We Al-Li; a Jiman (central west Queensland) and Bundjalung (northern New South Wales) woman, she is author of Trauma Trails and collaborated on Listen_Up with r e a for The Big Anxiety, 2019.

Dr Charulatha Mani (UQ), Indian-Australian performer-musicologist, presenting a song writing based workshop.

Performance-presentations include

Uti Kulintjaku (represented by Rene Kulitja, Nyunmiti Burton and Wanatjura Lewis) – formed by Ngangkari (traditional healers) and multi-artform artists of the NPY Women’s Council, Uti Kulintjaku is an innovative, Aboriginal-led mental health literacy project that takes its name from a Pitjantjatjara phrase that means ‘to listen, think and understand clearly’. Uti Kulintjaku have created virtual reality artworks (to be presented at The Big Reach) describing the experiences of trauma and mental health through traditional Tjukurpa such as Man in the Log. Their performance-presentation explores mental health, trauma and healing from Anangu perspectives.

Public Displays of Therapy by Daniele Constance (Gold Coast-based artist and art therapist) with Margi Brown-Ash (theatre-maker, therapist, researcher, theatre director) – An intimate, immersive live art performance work that seeks to provide a window into the therapy room, with audience observation and input into the session as it unfolds.

Experimental conversation formats include

Long Table – The Long Table originated as a performance installation, developed by artist Lois Weaver. It experiments with using the private form of a dinner party as a structure for public debate, encouraging informal conversation on difficult subjects in a format that elicits participation from a diverse range of experts and enables anyone wishing to speak to join the table.

The S Word: Long Table: A conversation about suicide – hosted and led by people with lived experience. This conversation will explore the art and science of talking about suicide and suicidal feelings – and the challenge of reaching people who go ‘under the radar’. The conversation includes discussion of a number of experimental arts projects, commissioned by The Big Anxiety, including Edge of the Present artists and the S-word – as well as of the findings of the Under the Radar project (Black Dog), and the initiatives of Mindblank and Roses in the Ocean.

Trauma Work: Collaborative Conversation in the form of a Long Table, inviting audience members to join the initial group of featured artist/presenters – Judy Atkinson, Naomi Sunderland, Carlie Atkinson, Rick Maher, Marianne Wobcke, Anita Glesta – exploring the work presented in this session and experiences from earlier workshops.

Awkward conversations: one-on-one bookable conversations in experimental formats, tackling anxieties, mental health, neurodiversity and suicide. Convened by Daniele Constance, the conversationalists include

  • Karen Lee Roberts –  performer, writer and singer
  • MJ O’Neill musician and sound artist
  • Ruby Donohoe – performer and interdisciplinary performance-maker 
  • Emma-June Curikcreative producer/director exploring sleep and narcolepsy in her practice
  • David Truong – singer songwriter and keyboard / piano player
  • Rebecca Dostalmultidisciplinary performing artist and storyteller with a penchant for puppetry 
  • Jorge Serra – photographer
  • Naavikaran spoken word artist, dancer and community activist
  • Dr Ally Nicolopoulos lived experience researcher (talking about suicide)
  • Lauren Watson performing aerial artist living with a disability
  • Anisa Nandaula poet, comedian and author
  • Tammy Law photographer, whose work documents the experience of Asian/Australianess

Sideshows include

A range of interactive immersive media artworks developed/commissioned by The Big Anxiety, presented by the creative teams who will be hosting discussions.

Edge of the Present – a  ‘mixed reality’ (virtual and physical) environment, installed at Gardens Point, designed to cultivate future thinking — with discussion by the creative team, users and researchers testing the use of the platform as a tool for suicide prevention. (add link to page?)

Embodimap – VR experience for working with trauma, anxiety or stress — with artists, designers, clinicians, and users on hand to share insights. (add link to page?)

Waumananyi: The Song on the Wind by Uti Kulintjaku (with fEEL) – an Anangu-led response to the experiences of constraint, entrapment, and depression through the traditional story (or ‘tjukurpa’) of ‘The Man in the Log’. Waumananyi is an innovative VR artwork used in remote communities in the APY Land. (add link to page?)

Parragirls Past, Present – a deeply moving 3D immersive experience, unlocking memories of institutional ‘care’ by former residents’ visions of the Parramatta Girls Home. The project will be a catalyst for discussion of art and trauma work. (add link to page?)

Other commissioned artworks will be evolving in situ during The Big Reach.

Other presenters include

Ruby and Beryl, Puppets by Rebecca Dostal in roving conversations. Ruby and Beryl have ‘lived’ a full life with many a traumatic experience. Rebecca has lent them some of hers.

Celia White, Artistic Director of Vulcana Circus – on the value of the embodied art and practice of contemporary circus performance.

Karen Lee Roberts with a cabaret performance and personal reflection.

Aaron (DHURIL) Blades, a proud Mandandanji man from the Balonne river in South Western Queensland, has been painting since he was 14 years old and has utilised his paintings to tell his stories and heal.

Anita Glesta, New York based public artist, PhD student UNSW presents UNNERVED – personal narrative on the embodied effects of trauma and grief, spoken with projected video animation.

Rick Maher, QUT Doctor of Creative Industries candidate whose professional background includes 32 years’ service as an Army Aviation Officer. His work examines the role of Dance in enhancing Quality of Life for Australian Combat Veterans with a history of trauma related psychological injuries.

Naomi Sunderland, a descendant of the Wiradjuri First Nations’ people of Australia. Co-Convenor of the Music and Communities Research Area at the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University.

Mikarla Teague, an award-winning Artist and Creative Arts Therapist whose recent work includes utilising art therapy to work with young women in Cambodia who are survivors of human trafficking and sex slavery.

The Big Reach Full Program – Download Here