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An artwork with swirls of red, orange and yellow over a light blue background. Dynamic Chaos by Meghen Daniels

October 22, 2021

‘A powerful and incredible collection of artwork’: Explore the Mind Matters Student Art Exhibition

Isolation, trauma, helplessness, depression, anxiety: 

‘Sometimes it can feel like you’re drowning.’ 

‘I thought being an adult was scary. A pandemic is worse.’ 


But also peace, perspective, healing, resilience, hope and love: 

‘Know that you are worth it. Know that you are loved.’ 

‘The sun will set, the sun will rise. I will enjoy its beauty by embracing it no matter what.’ 


These are the themes, emotions and experiences that some truly brave and generous Deakin students have shared with us as part of the Mind Matters Student Art Exhibition, which features works of art inspired by or reflecting on mental health and wellbeing. 

The exhibition, launched as part of Mental Health Month, features student artworks from 2021, 2020 and 2019, and highlights the broad spectrum of mental health that we may all experience at different times. It also shows how important it is to make mental health and wellbeing a ‘normal’ thing to talk about. 

While the exhibition has previously been displayed through the Deakin Life blog, this year it is hosted on the library’s new Deakin Exhibit platform. The purpose-built online platform offers new functionality and a user-friendly experience, bringing the exhibition to life in a professional and modern way.  

‘This platform will increase the reach of the Exhibition, showcasing the artwork and enhancing awareness of mental health and wellbeing to a wider audience. In doing so we hope to destigmatise mental health and encourage more students to seek help early (rather than when they desperately need it.)’ says Melissa Yong, Deakin Health Promotion Coordinator who helped lead the project. 

This project is also part of a collaborative partnership between the Division of Student Life and the Library in support of Deakin’s Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. It delivers on the library’s commitment to work in partnership to ‘enhance libraries as inclusive and safe community spaces’ – an action from the Student Mental Health and Wellbeing Promotion Action Group. 

Artwork of a dark figure in a room with walls covered in screens. Mission control by Chris Tomkins

Mission control by Chris Tomkins

Mental health in light of a global pandemic 

Art can be such a powerful way to reflect, communicate and connect with others, and to know that you’re not alone. The COVID pandemic and ongoing lockdowns have taken their toll on mental health for many people, but it is also an issue that has gained greater focus and attention during this period. 

‘Many of the pieces from 2021 and 2020 are reflections of how students are feeling due to the pandemic and the lockdowns. They talk of isolation, loneliness, anxiety and fear. But also beauty, gratitude and peace,’ says Melissa. ‘The exhibit has permitted students to express their feelings openly and honestly without judgement whilst promoting, and offering support for student mental health at Deakin through its awareness and education.’ 

The new Deakin Exhibit platform has also made it possible to bring together the new artworks with those from previous years. Each year the team hopes to build on the existing content, so they can ‘continue to tell the story of mental health and wellbeing through art’. 

‘Each year we can continue to normalise mental health, encouraging our students to express how they are feeling rather than experience it alone or in silence. The Exhibit not only helps the artist but may also inspire others,’ says Melissa.  

Visit the Mind Matters Student Art Exhibition to take a look at these creative, honest and powerful works from students of all backgrounds. 

We know that you’ll find their experiences valuable as you consider your own wellbeing or the mental health journey of someone close to you. 

Content warning: some of these artworks may trigger past trauma. Please make your own assessment on whether this exhibition is suitable for you and seek support if needed. 

Artwork of a flower in a field, placed over a stack of note papers and watercolour paints. Peace Amongst Pressure by Kathryn Jeal

Peace Amongst Pressure by Kathryn Jeal

Remember to nurture your own mental health and wellbeing 

During Mental Health Month, we’re encouraging you to ‘tune in’ to your own wellbeing – but you should also embed it in your daily life, no matter what else you’ve got going on. Check out this blog from Deakin Life with wellbeing ideas and Deakin support services.  

Original version published on Deakin Life. 

Image credits

Banner image: Dynamic Chaos by Meghen Daniels 

Image 1: Mission control by Chris Tomkins 

Image 2: Peace Amongst Pressure by Kathryn Jeal 


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