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"Spread the Word" Bellycasting Workshops


Since November 2012 participants from Bathurst, Lake Cargelligo and Parkes have been moulding beautiful memories at our Spread the Word belly casting workshops.

Targeted at pregnant Aboriginal women and their partners, the belly casting is one of a series of arts and health projects Arts OutWest is presenting in partnership with Western NSW Local Health District over nine months.

After being wrapped in plaster bandages to capture their pregnant forms (baby bumps) this cast is used as a mould and filled with casting plaster. Most participants are at the stage now that the positive cast is prepared for painting. With the help of local artists the young women are ready to put the finishing touches on their unique pieces.

Here’s an example of a typical belly casting session from February 5 in Bathurst, showing the integrated nature of the art making and the health information:

Some participants started painting their Belly casts with the assistance of Aleshia Lonsdale AOW Aboriginal Arts development officer. One young woman and her partner worked with Arts and Health Coordinator Christine MCMillan to create a bellycast that included both hers and her partners’ hands resting on her belly.

We have a different guest speaker from health each week. This week it was Vicki Gransden, who presented a talk to participants on the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of a healthy diet during and after pregnancy.

Over a nutritious lunch, AMIHS midwife Nancye Cronin, answered questions and shared her knowledge on health related topics.

Spread the Word workshops have become more than just belly casting over the last few months. With a large amount of young mothers and children attending, the activities have ranged from, childrens hand and feet casts to lino printing. They’ve been creating lots of art that will be displayed in showcase events in May.

Health messages are delivered to participants through local health workers, who provide information on topics like diabetes and otitis media. The relaxed and creative environment allows our young women to ask a lot of questions and feel free to share experiences with the group.

This month we are taking belly casting to Peak Hill and commencing another aspect of Spread the Word, with Film and Hip Hop workshops in Condobolin and Wellington.

Anna Evans is Arts OutWest’s Aboriginal Health Promotions Officer coordinating the Spread the Word workshops across the region. Spread the Word is funded by the Australian government through the Department of Health and Ageing.


Image by Arts OutWest.