May 24, 2021

Art Therapy at the ONJ Centre leads to thought-provoking exhibition

The ONJ Centre’s Open Studio is a weekly drop-in art session that gives patients and their loved ones access to time, space and art materials.

It's an invitation to create as they wish, and at their own pace. No artistic skills or experience are needed, and the sessions are supported by an Art Therapist.

Over the past few years, Open Studio participants who started off as strangers, have formed deep connections and friendships.

They’ve been inspired by each other’s artwork, and collectively have been creating papier mâché Danish Spirit Dolls.

These dolls illustrate their individuality, but also their unity.

These artworks have helped form their exhibition “1+1=1” which is currently on display in the level 3 walkway at the ONJ Centre.

They have also collaborated to create a short animation using Rumi’s poem “The Great Wagon” as a framework, while incorporating their papier mâché dolls and other artworks created in the open studio as backdrops. 

The animation explores the idea of oneness and belonging, and the healing power of love within a group.

Participants also worked with our Music Therapist to create a soundtrack.


Open Studio participants have also shared the impact that Art Therapy has had on their cancer journey. 

ONJ Centre patient and Art Therapy participant, Atalanti Dionysus

“Something magical was happening in this Art Therapy group as we were working closely together creating individual pieces of art. At the time we didn’t realize it would form a combined project. Every week we would come back to the Open Studio, in-between clinic appointments and treatment, to continue making our puppets, painting them, talking about them and sharing stories and laughter.“

ONJ Centre patient and Art Therapy participant, Loredana Crupi

“The stem cell transplant was a life changer for me and so was the art therapy group. Whilst recovering in the wards, the group would keep the project alive for me with video updates and messages. This was vitally important for me because it relieved me from the emotional strains of my blood cancer journey.”

Partner of ONJ Centre Patient and Art Therapy participant, Jo Hogan

Throughout the ‘1+1=1’ project my partner was undergoing a Stem Cell Transplant. The ‘Open Studio’ provided me with a space to be. To be supported, to create, with no end in mind, to release and relax, to be in the moment. Unjudged by others, all my fears, tension, exhaustion, battle scars could be expelled onto the canvas; “My soul could lie down on that grass, when the world was too full to talk about.” Inspired by my fellow art buddies, I observed their creativity and expression, we engaged chatted and laughed, stimulating random ideas which built upon another and found their way into a shared story of oneness.”

ONJ Centre patient and Art Therapy participant, Suzie Zezula

“I ended up in the art therapy ‘Open Studio’ with an amazing like-minded group of people who became a fundamental part of my treatment and recovery. For me it was a mood lifting, inclusive support group that provided the perfect distraction; a weekly oasis of creativity, sharing, laughter, comfort and learning.”