Hanging in hospital becomes an art form for Joe

Operation Art's Touring 50 exhibition launches today at the Art Gallery of NSW.

17 March 2021
A young boy stands in front of a brightly painted brick wall
Image: Excited: Year 1 student Joe Hinte's artwork will be going on tour.

Year One student Joe Hinte knows firsthand the need sick children have for some colour and joy in their lives.

The Tarrawanna Public School student spent a lot of his early years at Westmead Children’s Hospital being treated for hip dysplasia and Perthes disease.

While he still visits the hospital for regular check-ups, Joe is delighted he now has a chance to give back to the place that helped him after he was selected as one of the Touring 50 for Operation Art.

The Operation Art Touring Exhibition will be launched today at the Art Gallery of NSW with the works on display in the gallery until 28 March before heading to Wollongong, Cowra, Wagga Wagga, Maitland and Port Macquarie.

Joe, who completed the painting in his Kindergarten year at Winmalee Public School, said he was excited his drawing of an emu was selected for the tour and would eventually hang at the hospital, where he will be able to see it hanging when he visits.

His emu drawing was inspired by the book Stripey the Emu. “I then used ink with sticks, oil pastels and paint to draw an emu,” Joe said.

“I’m happy that my emu will be hanging at the hospital to cheer up all the kids.”

Joe’s emu is one of the 50 artworks from almost 500 entries selected for the tour. The artworks will be included in the permanent art collection of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead at the tour's end.

A drawing of an emu
Image: Inspired: Joe Hinte's emu drawing.

Operation Art was founded 26 years ago and involves students from Kindergarten to Year 10 creating artworks for children in hospital.

It draws on research that has shown an optimistic outlook reflected in art can help improve a child’s wellbeing and play a vital part in the recovery and healing process.

NSW Department of Education’s Arts Unit Operation Art Officer Heidi Windeisen said the 2021 touring exhibition was unique because the artworks were influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Operation Art is a program through which students can discover purpose in artmaking by creating works that can promote a feeling of joy to those who spend much of their time in hospitals,” Ms Windeisen said.

She said it was exciting to see the artworks that had been created by students while many of them were learning from home.

“Many students have created their artworks at home with only materials which were readily available to them, and many have created works as a direct response to their own experiences of isolation,” she said.

A team of judges, including Westmead Children’s Hospital art curator Ivy Baddock, had the difficult task of selecting 50 artworks for the touring exhibition.

“I am excited every year to see what the students have created for Operation Art and the impressive standard of work makes my job so much harder,” Ms Baddock said.

“The artworks offer patients and their families respite from the clinical hospital environment by helping reduce stress, make our hospitals more welcoming and enhance spaces where quiet moments can occur.”

Operation Art is an initiative of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in association with the NSW Department of Education and in collaboration with Sydney Olympic Park Authority.

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