Since 2003, Clemente Australia has provided a university education program to more than 500 disadvantaged Australians. The National School of Arts at ACU, in partnership with St Vincent de Paul (since 2013), Centacare, Sisters of Mercy, Micah Projects Inc. and Common Ground, have worked tirelessly to deliver Clemente Brisbane, which sees students who successfully complete four Arts units awarded a Certificate in Liberal Studies from our University. Brisbane’s Clemente Facilitator, Janine Quine, from ACU’s Institute for Advancing Community Engagement (IACE), says 23 students have successfully completed the program in Brisbane since 2006.
In semester one this year, Alasdair Macintyre from the National School of Arts in Brisbane took over the role of visual arts lecturer in the Clemente program, teaching a drawing unit to students. Being of varying ages and backgrounds, the students were able to bring much of their lived experience to their work which culminated in the opportunity to stage a graduate exhibition at the St Vincent de Paul annual CEO Sleepout.
Held in Captain Burke Park on a chilly June night, the sleepout, now in its seventh year nationally, is the largest fundraising event for St Vincent de Paul; leaders from all areas of business come together to raise money for and awareness about, homelessness in the community. This was a most fitting location for the Clemente students to showcase their work.
The exhibition was held in a large marquee at the site of the sleepout and featured artwork that the students had completed during the semester. Each piece of art was available for purchase, with all of the proceeds from the sales going to the students themselves. Many of Alasdair’s Clemente students braved the cold to attend the exhibition, and two of them addressed the audience about their lives, issues of homelessness, and how the Clemente program had made a positive impact on them. The exhibition drew considerable attention, and finished on a high note with all of the artwork being sold.
Alasdair, felt a great sense of achievement seeing the exhibition come to fruition, and for the Clemente students the exhibition has given them the confidence they need to become agents for their own change.
Left to right: Alasdair Mcintyre (ACU), Janine Quine (ACU) and Belinda Blaik (Centacare)