HARRIED shoppers in Eaglehawk are about to get some much-needed cheer thanks to a group of people with disabilities.
The group has been putting the finishing touches on an Australian-themed Christmas display on their High Street window.
It compliments recently-completed work painstakingly decorating a piano, which has graced another window overlooking the main strip.
The shop-front displays are part of an Access Creative Studios' art program to help people with disabilities get their creative juices flowing.
It is also a way for those with ambition to hone skills and bring attention to their work, artist Michelle Loschiavo said.
"It's getting my work out there, getting feedback. There are opportunities that come with that," Ms Loschiavo said.
Ultimately, though, she paints for the fun of it.
"I've just always loved art. I don't know what else to say."
Ms Loschiavo is one of eleven artists from the group who will display works at Federation Square from next week, as part of the State Trustee's CONNECTED Art Exhibition.
They have been deemed among the best 89 entries for the exhibition, which will showcase emerging artists who have a disability or an experience of mental illness.
Her CONNECTED piece is a horse in a field of roses.
"Roses are my thing. I love them," Ms Loschiavo said.
"If you want to get better at art, roses are a good way to go."
Ms Loschiavo found out about Access Creative Studios from a friend she had once painted with in a different group years ago.
"I started coming and the rest is history," she said.
The studio came to Scott Testa's attention just over a month ago when he was walking down High Street.
"I got the bus through Eaglehawk on a Monday and I went past and thought 'that looks like something different to do'," he said.
Mr Testa has been working on the Christmas window.
"I've come up with ideas and have been helping the guys," he said.
One of the extensive traveller's ideas for was inspired by Mount Isa.
"They took my idea on board and we painted a backdrop of our sunburned country," Mr Testa said.
The studio decided to do a Christmas display because many of its artists wanted to give back to the Eaglehawk community, art projects facilitator Alicia Luvara said.
"We've gone for a bit of a Christmas in the Borough theme. So there's a rusty ute instead of a sleigh. There's a team of 'roos to pull it."
It has taken five weeks for the team to pull everything together.
About 20 people come in each Tuesday for creative workshops, Mrs Luvara said.
"It's a lot of ceramics and 3D art, but we try to do a lot of stuff that involves teamwork. That's why we are doing the Christmas window," she said.
The group has also recently completed the "mammoth task" of transforming its piano into a mosaic art piece, Mrs Luvara
"There are a lot of tiles in it. We actually gutted the piano to reduce its weight. Some of the panels have taken a long time to finish. So there's a lot of work. We are all really proud of it."
Working in groups is not the only activity available at the studio, Mrs Luvara said.
"On a Wednesday and a Thursday we have artists working on individual projects," she said.
The artists have access to professionals working in creative fields, who spend a lot of time with them.
"A lot of the participants will also do yoga, music, performing arts and dance. It's a more holistic approach to staying fit, staying healthy and expressing yourself.
"And it's about being with like-minded people as well."
Artists have not yet decided what their next group piece will be. It could perhaps be some sort of Easter display, Mrs Luvara said.
"But it's evolving all the time, here," she said.
The Christmas window can be viewed at 12 High Street Eaglehawk. The State Trustee's CONNECTED Art Exhibition takes place in Fed Square's Atrium from 2-14 December.
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