The power of art

By Melissa Walsh  Photos Yanni

Kerryn Knight is a firm believer in signs and left a well paid corporate job to enter into the field where she created Kindred Art Space, a community of art therapists in an environment where you feel relaxed and calm the moment you walk in. The elegant and well spoken art therapist has a passion for helping others and, later in life, discovered her true path, combining her love of psychology and art.

In 2008 she turned this passion into a service to help transform lives when she became an art therapist.

“Mum is an artist and I ran and owned the family jewellery business for many years, worked in the corporate world and found I was on my own journey to find out what to do with my life,” said Kerryn who was 35 when she did the diploma of transpersonal art therapy . “That was ten years ago and I am now back doing my masters.”

For Kerryn, the process of transpersonal art therapy gently helped her discover who she was.

“It was life changing; it is how I met my second husband, and it really tore back the onion rings to find out who I am and about how to be the best version of myself,” she said. “It is about digging deep and it integrates deeper parts of your psyche to go back to the first six years of development which is where many of our wounds happen. It doesn’t have to be a big event but it is something that triggers patterns that become our life. I chose art therapy as things happen in threes. I heard about it from three different sources and thought there was something in that. The idea of marrying art and psychology sounded amazing and, with transpersonal art therapy, a more spiritual element comes through.”

As an art therapist, professional supervisor and registered counsellor, Kerryn provides individual and group sessions and facilitates community art projects with an empowering message.

“Art therapy is used with the paradigms of counselling and psychotherapy through making art, using your body through movement, and making music. It is about having a voice, and the art can speak back to you in an incredible way with our art therapy sessions,” said Kerryn, whose versatile experience has provided her with deep knowledge about life issues. 

With a nurturing and welcoming approach, its not surprising Kerryn finds that people warm to her ability to establish rapport and build trust in the safe space she creates and provides for each individual.

“It is about putting the analytical mind on hold and listening to your soul and body. We hold trauma at a cellular level and the art making is the truth serum. When you pick up a colour you are drawn to you can’t lie. It is all about the process of being truthful and uncovering feelings and solutions you didn’t know were there,” said Kerryn of the natural process of self discovery through art. “ We have a gallery space here with our outside meditation garden space, individual rooms for sand, art and music therapy and a serene open area for workshops and demonstrations.”

Kerryn has a range of people of all ages and backgrounds coming to art therapy.

“I see people who have everything in their life – the relationship, the big house, the income – but there is still something missing so I help them find their joy and passion. And then I see other people who really have been struggling at times, those on the spetrum who have NDIS plans,” said Kerryn. “Everone from three year old children to the elderly with dementia.”

Seeing people transform and find their peace and confidence is the motivator for Kerryn and other art therapists.

“I had looked for a place to set up the art therapy for a few years and nothing ever came through,” said Kerryn, who found the place online in Kookaburra Street six years ago. “It was out of our price range so I couldn’t get it at the time. I was heart broken and stopped searching for about a year. I then started searching again and saw this was still on the market. I do believe in signs and had painted a picture in a meditation class of a kookaburra which has always been a special symbol for me. I took the dogs for a walk that morning in Box Hill where we were living a the time. Walking along beside the freeway, this kookaburra came out of nowhere and I thought okay it a sign, so I tried again and we got the place.”

“With art therapy it is all about empowering people to come to their own conclusions. I might invite them to create a story in the sand with the symbols or paint a picture. It is not about transforming a stick figure into a masterpiece. It is just about the process and encouraging people to put their analytical mind on hold and go to what you feel drawn to. It might be a colour; it might be a symbols. It is therapeutic as it gets into the zone where you can enjoy playing with the colour, medium and symbols but once it is finished we have a way of looking at the symbols. It may be a pattern or it may be placement of figures and what that say is happening with a person,” said Kerryn, who has witnessed incredible transformations over the years. 

“I have done some wonderful work with indigenous youth developing a right of passage program for a lot of the people who have gone through a drug and alcohol program in Hastings. I have worked with people on ice and seen them go back into society and get a job, as well as those with a vanishing twin, who have felt they don’t belong in society, those who are confused about their sexuality, the elderly with dementia, and very young children as well.”

Founded on her belief in the power of art therapy, Kerryn runs her workshops and individual sessions from this unique and nurturing space and is joined by other mental health professionals providing services for body, mind and spirit.

“I find art therapy, meditation, mindfulness and counselling a wondrous way to tap into your inner resources for positive change,” said Kerryn, who as part of her ongoing professional development, has a basis in interpreting art on varying levels.  “This empowers you to find meaning rather than just relying on being given advice. The meaning, personal associations and feelings of the artwork are always held by you. Just as each art piece is one of a kind, the attached meanings to them are highly individual, very powerful and hold the potential to create deep and long lasting change for the better.”

First published in Peninsula Essence – May 2019