27 Sep 2019 — 16 Nov 2019



Tues-Sat 10am-5pm


Poetry and sound, from memories of the isolation room and life on the outside.

The Big Anxiety Commission – World Premiere.


Unravelling Moments from a Torn Mind, 2019
Poetry and sound installation
Track durations variable

Unravelling Moments from a Torn Mind is an installation centred around Wart’s personal experiences of psychiatric institutionalisation and isolation, and their aftermaths. It brings together her work in poetry, music and painting as an immersive experience.

The project is a new collaboration between Wart and musician and sound engineer Phil Downing. Poems from the late 90s and early 00s, written in times of mental distress, are rendered in Wart’s older, richer and humour-filled voice, against soundtracks made for each piece. The tracks feature Wart’s beautiful kitchen piano, a coffee grinder and the sound of the sea, among many others collected from her environment.

“From many words we developed rhythms and dialogues with a range of instruments and found objects. Each of these complemented the sometimes raw emotion in the words expressed. Whether in a harmonic attitude, or a deliberate aural assault, the spoken word highlights the wretchedness of a helpless situation”. Wart

This work was commissioned for The Empathy Clinic.

Artist Biography


Wart (aka jen waterhouse) originally from Geelong, Victoria has lived and worked as an artist in the visual and performing Arts in Sydney since 1980. With her own experiences of institutionalisation, Wart has focused for decades on mental health advocacy and support, alongside her art making. Her illustrations, designs, cartoons and paintings have been widely published and exhibited. She is also a performer, musician and poet. In 2018 she undertook a month-long Artist Residency in Venice, Italy and later in Kandos, NSW for Cementa19. Wart’s recent paintings will be in a group exhibition at Griffith University Art Museum titled The Abyss; Strategies for Contemporary Art, in late July until the end of September. In August Wart has a Residency at Bundanon, and is performing in November at Cementa19. Wart has just received the inaugural Artist with Disabilities Fellowship from the Australia Council.

Phil Downing

Phil Downing has been performing and recording music for over 20 years, and was first engaged to produce soundtracks for theatre through experimentation with original musical inventions. He continues composing using various music recording/editing tools, creating sounds from found objects or manipulation of surroundings and the natural environment. Highlights include: High Performance Packing Tape, STOP-GO, Artwork (Branch Nebula), Plenty Serious Talk Talk, Stolen, Long Grass (Vicky Van Hout), The Irresistible (Side Pony Productions), Winyanboga Yurringa, This Fella My Memory (Moogahlin Performing Arts), Posts in the Paddock, The Piper (My Darling Patricia), Falling (Alice Osbourne/ Performance Space), Murder (Erth).