From London to North Ryde – bringing communities together
Mel Barry


From London to North Ryde – bringing communities together

September 9, 2019

Macquarie alumna and former resident of Dunmore Lang College, Melanie Barry (BA 1997, PCMgmt 1999) recently returned to her alma mater from London to run a creativity workshop.

With a major in Politics and a further certificate in Management from MGSM, since 1998 in Sydney and London Mel has worked in communications and marketing in the environment and communities area of sustainability.

Twelve years after Mel left Australia to work in London she took a short course in Independent Curation at Central St Martins, then received a grant from a social purpose organisation to help start her local community-based venture for grassroots outreach, creative enrichment and social mobility –

Hosted by the London team of a national charity for social and therapeutic horticulture, Thrive Battersea Park, she produces and curates Art Hut workshops and exhibitions in a public garden. The Art Hut sessions provide a time and space for the creative enrichment of all ages, experience and abilities who learn directly from, and have their work shown alongside, an established artist.  Workshops are based around community and environment themes and work produced has the potential to be selected by Mel for exhibition.  The sessions are held at the Art Hut garden and in other public venues such as community gardens, youth clubs, cafes, primary school classes, primary school gardens and galleries.

A resident of Dunmore Lang College for a year during her undergraduate student days, Mel recently reconnected with the college and was invited by Dean of Students, Liza Allen to run a sustainability themed creativity workshop for students and alumni. Output from the workshop was displayed in the college and pieces selected by Mel will be showcased at the Art Hut in 2019.

Mel finds community-based work challenging and extremely rewarding in equal measure – through both her workshops for local groups and work on a UK summer program for youth-led social action in collaboration with charities and social enterprises (the National Citizen Service). She enjoys encouraging all ages to think deeply about what matters most to them about planet and people and to visually express that.  “I avoid using the word ‘art’ during my workshops”, says Mel, “only because it can stifle creativity for many people who often feel they are not artistic. However, when given the tools and prompted to visualise societal or environmental issues that are important to them, it soon shows through in the artworks they produce. Through my workshops I encourage all ages to think about connecting with and expressing their authentic style and societal interests.”

She is currently a consultant for a social sector consultancy firm in their heritage conservation team.

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