Exhibition at The Centre Beaudesert celebrates the strength of women as mothers and artists

THE strength of women is at the heart of a new exhibition opening at The Centre this month.

Women's Work, which runs from February 19 to March 26, brings together the exhibitions Early, by Emma Thorp, and Welded Hearts, by Melissa Carey and Colleen Lavender, in a fusion of artistic styles.

Early details artist Thorp's journey which began with her son's premature birth through to a diagnosis of autism and ADHD, exploring the emotions experienced by parents.

A digital and mixed media artist, Thorp has drawn on her life experience, combining sketches, photography and memories to create detailed images.

After her son, Alby, was born 14 weeks early, Thorp experienced fear, guilt, regret, frustration and isolation and, juggling her own desires and commitments with those of the hospital, her husband and eldest child, was left feeling inadequate and deficient.

"He was born on 8 October 2010. His full-term due date would have been 9 January 2011," she said.

"When he was born, Alby weighed 1100 grams.

"He had many of the typical setbacks that extremely premature babies have - jaundice, anaemia, eye problems, brain haemorrhage, heart issues and breathing issues - but battled and became stronger and after 78 days between the Mater Mothers' Brisbane and Toowoomba Base Hospital Special Care, Alby was able to come home."

In Welded Hearts, Carey and Lavender share stories of courage and resilience, with an underlying message of hope.

Sculptures, art installations and interactive works feature in the exhibition.

"As women, we speak from our heart," Melissa said.

"In hard times, we gather together in community, we share our stories, and we hold space for others to express emotions.

"Art helps us process our thoughts and emotions, that sometimes we don't have words for. It gives us a voice, it helps us, as women, speak our truth and show courage."

Scenic Rim artist Lavender is renowned for her ability to turn scrap metal into beautiful sculptures.

"By using the technique of welding, which is seen as masculine, we find our own ways to combine our feminine elements and show our resilience through this hard and strong medium," she said.

"Through our art, we share our stories of courage, bravery and resilience, and spread our message of hope to the community."

The launch of Women's Work on Saturday, February 20 is open to all members of the Scenic Rim community and is presented in partnership with Women of the World Australia, a Queensland initiative supporting action and change for women and girls.

Hosted by Scenic Rim councillor Virginia West, the launch opens with a morning tea and exhibition viewing from 10.30am, followed by a panel discussion with the artists and WOW executive producer Cathy Hunt.

Artists will give guided tours of the exhibition.

Free tickets to the exhibition launch are available online at liveatthecentre.com.au or by phoning 5540 5050.