No Shame No Silence is the title of an art exhibition at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom from November 2 by 28 artists from across New Zealand.
They have contributed at least 50 pieces of art that will highlight domestic violence and the way the courts respond to this.
“The abused are abused by the court system,” organiser Sarah-Jayne Shine says about the rationale behind the exhibition. The idea for the exhibition came about after she participated in a march on Parliament last year where a petition was handed over demanding an enquiry into the family court.
“I was mortified at my own experience in the family court. There I lost control of my own life and that of my kids.”
She said the march brought out into the open other people’s horror stories but also experiences of healing and camaraderie among the victims of domestic abuse who were there.
“I also realised that my own situation wasn’t that bad. I only had to deal with the family court for 20 months. Others are in that system for years, some even decades.
“Though I felt empowered by the experience of marching, there was so much loss, anger, frustration, grief and other emotions that I took home with me from there. I wanted to do something to process that. I am not into marching. I am a creative person.”
Once the call via Facebook had gone out, the responses flowed in from around the country from many artists who wanted to participate and share their experiences.
She emphasises that domestic violence is not just about women.
“Men also experience abuse. In fact about a third of the artists exhibiting are men.” The exhibition is also about children and how they are crushed by the system.
Some of the art works on display will be for sale and there will be merchandise, such as small prints and badges, the proceeds of which go to charities helping victims of domestic violence.
The kawakawa leaf was chosen as a symbol for the issue and the exhibition.
“We wore those on the march.
“It is used for tangi and is a symbol for grief. The strongest leaves of the kawakawa are the best suited for medicinal use and bugs are attracted to them, leaving the holes.
“It is also the symbol for survival and healing and it is heart-shaped.”
No Shame No Silence also features a youth exhibition inspired by Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant, who caught and bottled dreams and nightmares.
The exhibition will run until December 15.