Operation Art exhibition has opened at Wollongong Art Gallery this week

ARTIST: Corrimal student Nick Simovic at the Operation Art exhibition at the Wollongong Art Gallery (his artwork Birds in the Blossom is inset). Picture: Robert Peet
ARTIST: Corrimal student Nick Simovic at the Operation Art exhibition at the Wollongong Art Gallery (his artwork Birds in the Blossom is inset). Picture: Robert Peet

For the past 23 years primary and secondary school students across NSW have been picking up easels and canvas to create artworks to make sick kids happy.

Operation Art, a joint project between the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and the Department of Education and Communities, involves young people from Kindergarten to Year 10.

It culminates in hundred of creative pieces across different mediums like drawings, prints, photographs and paintings with many eventually making it onto hospital walls and those of other organisations. While 50 are also selected go on an annual exhibition tour which stops at different cities each year.

Wollongong Art Gallery is hosting the exhibition until February 4 and includes two artworks from Illawarra students – Emily Choi of The Illawarra Grammar School and Nick Simovic of Corrimal High School.

Nick, 13, created a mixed media collage with colourful birds, inspired by the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

When the kids create the works they see the world through the same eyes as the kids we're aiming to cheer up.

Lisa van den Dolder

“I want to make [sick children] them happy because they haven’t got the chances of what we have because they’re sick,” he said.

Arts Unit project officer from the department Lisa van den Dolder said every year more and more research reinforces how art can make a positive impact to one’s wellbeing, further reinforcing the project’s purpose.

“I think that’s becoming more mainstream that understanding of the arts,” she said. “All the new hospitals being built are all being built with gardens and art galleries.”

'Birds in the Blossom' by Corrimal student Nick Simovic.

'Birds in the Blossom' by Corrimal student Nick Simovic.

The former visual arts teacher said they other “lovely” part of the initiative is it’s a great to give students a purpose when in art classes.

“When the kids create the works they see the world through the same eyes as the kids we're aiming to cheer up,” she said. “And it may well give a chance for a sick kids to escape from that scary place that they’re in or that feeling of being unwell.”

Ms van den Dolder said she sees parents and carers also reaping benefits from artwork on the walls, watching them inspect the colours while they’re waiting for tests or the like.

Operation Art is currently exhibiting at Wollongong Art Gallery on Burelli Street until February 4. Entry is free. www.wollongongartgallery.com