As a filmmaker
I’m conscious that documentary film in particular is often about
creating a sort of awareness; and it became clear that for the patrons
and staff ofthe 420 Centre this was a very important facet of the
art project; and clearly this drive for widespread dialogue was present
in Adam’s design for such an engaging and far reaching community
based project. It seems appropriate to mention that creating awareness
does not necessarily assume that those who are not “aware”
are judgemental or unaccepting…all it assumes is that not enough
is known. It seemed to me that the 420 Project not only allowed a
window into the lives of people who live with mental illness, it offered
a window out of this life and into the many and varied lives, views
and ideals of the wider community. There was an education that flowed
both ways, that addressed Life, the Universe and the 420 Centre.
I hope everyone who was part of the project has had a journey as fulfilling
as mine. To the patrons and staff of the 420 Centre thank you so much.
Your patience, honesty, tolerance of the chick with the camera, and
laughter made everyday with you a good day.
Helped raise mental health awareness
(Letters to the Editor, Otago Daily Times 30/07/07)
your pages we would like to thank everyone who made ‘Life, the
Universe and the 420 Centre’ art project possible. (ODT 11.7.07).
The 420 Centre supports people recovering from mental illness. During
the past 8 months we have taken part in an art project involving more
than 200 people, including well-known artists from Dunedin. During
these 8 months we have discovered artistic abilities we didn’t
know we had- even those of us who weren’t too keen on picking
up a paint brush to start. It is fantastic that we are now having
our artwork exhibited.
gave us something to look forward to and we really enjoyed taking
part in something that was not only fun in an artistic way, but which
also helped raise awareness of mental health and reduce stigma around
like to thank the artists who took the time to come up to the centre
and work on panels for the artwork, and also the PACT Group (which
runs 420) for providing the materials.
and most importantly, we would like to thank Adam Douglass for initiating
Patrons of the 420 Centre
taken from Douglass Adams - Life, the Universe and Everything, published
in 1982. pg1-2
is the worst place, so to speak, to get lost in, as Arthur Dent could
testify, having been lost in both time and space a good deal. At least
being lost in space kept you busy.
He was stranded in prehistoric Earth as the result of a complex sequence
of events which had involved him being alternately blown up and insulted
in more bizarre regions of the Galaxy than he had ever dreamt existed,
and though life had now turned very, very, very quiet, he was feeling
jumpy. He hadn’t been blown up now for five years.
he had hardly seen anyone since he and Ford Prefect had parted company
four years previously, he hadn’t been insulted in all that time
He was returning to his cave just a little after dusk when he became
aware of lights flashing eerily through the clouds. He turned and
stared, with hope sudenly clambering through his heart. Rescue. Escape.
The castaway’s impossible dream - a ship.
he watched, as he stared in wonder and excitement, a long silver ship
descended through the warm evening air, quietly, without fuss, its’
long legs unlocking in a smooth ballet of technology.
It alighted gently on the ground, and what little hum it had generated
died away, as if lulled by the evening calm.
A ramp extended itself.
Light streamed out.
A tall figure appeared silhouetted in the hatchway. It walked down
the ramp and stood in front of Arthur
‘You’re a jerk, Dent,’ it said simply...’
goal at the PACT Group is to support our clients to lead fulfilling
lives in the community. So it was with great pleasure that I attended
the opening of ‘Life, the Universe and the 420 Centre’
exhibition and saw that this project had resulted in the 420 Centre
patrons truly being part of their local community. They were there
as artists themselves, mixing with other artists, as they had done
throughout the project, as well as interested people from the arts
and general community. In achieving this community participation the
project helped reduce the stigmatisation that still accompanies mental
illness in some quarters. The project showed what people recovering
from mental illness can achieve. It allowed the 420 patrons themselves
to explore their creativity and show pride in their abilities rather
than be judged by their mental health issues.
like to acknowledge the artists who gave their time to be involved
with this project and who were open to what it could achieve. Artist
and Art Co-ordinator Adam Douglass must also receive the highest praise;
without him none of it would have been possible. Finally, I have to
thank the 420 patrons for sharing their creative side with the community
– anyone who has seen the finished product cannot help but be
impressed with their results.
CEO The PACT Group (Participating Artist)
When the 420 Art Project started over 8 months ago, I was apprehensive
as to how the patrons of 420 would cope with their privacy invaded
by a group of strangers from all walks of society. As this was Adam’s
project it gave me the unique opportunity to view the situation as
very impressed at the quick relationships formed between patrons,
artists and film crew. The inclusion of the film crew seemed to turn
the art sessions into an event, which increased the importance of
being there for some. Sally and Katrina, the film crew involved decided
to make a documentary recording the process of the art project and
including an overall view of how the public perceive people with mental
illnesses. After the first day of filming, everyone began to relax
and enjoy the experience. Some more than others became very photogenic!
The exceptional friendliness of the camera crew turned the Tuesday
afternoons into a huge occasion... The process of making, became a
huge experience in itself.
interesting to meet local artists from all cultures of the world.
Mexico, Germany, Scotland, Middle Eastern and I also had the pleasure
of meeting Tibetan Monks that attended class. We found that all patrons
and artists became relaxed with each other and some have formed ongoing
friendships since the project has finished. I can only hope that Adam
can arrange future events to keep the invite open for artists to attend
future projects. The project was a huge success and won’t be
forgotton by those involved for a long time.
Team Leader, The 420 Centre
Long, and Thanks for all the Squares...
The artwork is the actual language that was chosen to communicate
certain ideas. In this project many people used their artwork/artworks
to communicate ideas. The work was designed to be experienced physically
and as a process. All the text associated with the project is an interpretation
of an experience of the artwork/process by an individual. The text
that is used within this catalogue touches and elaborates on a range
of important ideas from a variety of perspectives, to act as windows
to experience the artwork, or the memory of the artwork.
from the Blue Oyster Proposal for ‘The 420 Project’:
“...I’m interested in the artists role in society, status,
art as a theraputic activity, art as a language and a vehicle to develop
dialogue, art as an aesthetic experience, perception and the creative
process. Within this project I hope to bring a range of artists together
from different disciplines, who have different objectives, different
status, different mental states, gender, sexualities, a range of people
basically. I want to document an aspect of social consciousness, and
in the process eliminate some stigma, develop a dialogue in the community
and to create a platform for recovery...” Adam Douglass
the biggest jobs of the project has been to inform members of the
Dunedin artistic community and to invite them to participate in the
project. I hope everyone in the visual arts community felt informed
and comfortable about approaching myself and/or the 420 Centre regarding,
felt privileged to be included in the 420 community, and that I have
been trusted by staff, patrons and the PACT Group to develop and organize
this project with all of their help. I have been constantly blown
away with the standard of work completed for the project, by everyone
involved. Some people who don’t see themselves as artists have
shown natural flair and intuitive understanding, while other artists
put a lot of love and energy into beautiful works without any financial
return or obvious recognition. I have been continuously inspired by
this sharing, generosity and creative activity.
work that gets completed is viewed in the same light, and the interaction
between these works is what takes the viewers experience to another
I can identify
with the ideas of Jurgen Habermas in relation to ‘Life, the
Universe and the 420 Centre’.
“every subject with the competence to speak “or express
their voice “is allowed to take part in discourse, everyone
is allowed to question any assertion whatsoever, everyone is allowed
to introduce any assertion whatsoever, and everyone is allowed to
express his or hers attitudes, desires or needs.”1 “ This
egalitarian interaction cultivates a sense of ’solidarity’
among discursive participants who are as a result,”2 “intimately
linked in an intersubjectively shared form of life”3
Grant Kester has taken some snippets of text from Jurgen Habermas,
which discuss some of Habermas’s concepts related to dialogical
will move on to different areas of the community. Site specific installations
will be set up in different areas of the community.
Curator, Project Designer/Director, Participating Artist
like to acknowledge all the artists who have participated in the project,
without the collective participation and collaboration the project
wouldn’t have been possible. I would like to mention the patrons
and the staff of the Centre, who have taught me a lot over the last
few years, and have welcomed people into their centre. Staff, volunteers,
helpers, Fiona, Michael, Paul, Mervyn, Matt, Joe, Val, Lui, Dita and
Lee for doing an outstanding job. I’m sure that a lot of people
priveleged enough to be welcomed into the centre have taken much form
the inclusive, non judgemental, compassionate, spontaneous atmosphere
of the centre and it’s patrons. Not to forget the humour, there
has been some classic moments, and some contagious laughter over the
past 8 months.
I would like to acknowledge all the people who played a vital role
in the success of this project, to the PACT Group, who have funded
and supported the entire project from the beginning. Louise, Wendy,
Korazaan, Jenny, Kirsten, Pru, Nikki and everyone else who have helped
in many ways.. Filmmakers, Katrina Jones and Sally Williams, who have
been producing a documentary on the project, they’ve provided
a lot of support, time, encouragement, motivation, proof reading,
writing, etc. J B Riley for donating the plywood. Everyone who has
contributed text. Bridie, Leoni and Lyn from Otago Polytechnic School
of Art, for writing, helping, informing etc. *Dedication from Lyn
Plummer to Dr Heather Martin- 17.4.1950- 21.6.2007 A person who brought
great intelligence and sensitivity to all of the projects she undertook.
It was a privilege to have known her. Frank and the Artsenta staff
for helping out and encouraging participation from artsenta artists.
Dillon Ryan who has done a great job with photography through the
installation, opening, exhibition period. Naomi Mulqueen who donated
a lot of time after hours, connecting panels with me. As well as Robin,
Blake, Mum and Dad. Installing and dismantling- Fiona, Joe, James,
Sally, Ray, Lewis, Dillon, Mike, Rose, Glenda, Katrina, Phil, Jimbo,
Greer, Lyn, John, Charlotte, Hildon, Neeka, Ben, Aleta, Roxy, Annette,
Katrina, Jasmine and friend, Toddy for the gear. Ben, Charlotte and
the rest of the Blue Oyster Trust, Annete, Roxy and Aleta for helping
out. Cathy and Keith for work supplying the link as to where now.
John at Southern Film, and to any one else I’ve forgotten! Sal
for one last proof reading session!
1.Jurgen Habermas, “Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of
Philosophical Justification,” in Moral Consciousness and Communicative
Action, trans. Christian Lenhardt and Shierry Webber Nicholson (Cambridge:
MA: MIT Press, 1991), p.89. In his essay “The Gift in Littoral
Art Practice,” Bruce Barber uses Habermas’s concept of
“communicative action” to elucidate recent projects by
Wochenklauser, been published in Fuse 19, 2 (Winter 1996) and in Intervention:
Post Object and Performance Art in New Zealand in 1970 and Beyond,
ed. Jennifer Hay (Christchurch: Robert MacDougall Art Gallery and
ANNEX Press, 2000), pp. 49-58.
2.Grant Kester, Conversation Pieces, The Role of Dialogue in Socially-Engaged
Art. From the section- Dialogical Aesthetics. Kester elaborates on
from a Jurgen Habermas quote, referenced #1. Pg 80-81
3. Jurgen Habermas, “Justice and Solidarity,” Philosophical
Forum 21 (1989-90):47.
Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything, is the third book
of his four part trilogy. So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish is
the fourth book, The most famous being The Hitchhiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy, Gollancz, London, 2002.
ongoing text related to this project www.adamdouglass.co.nz. A documentary
film, mentioned through out this catalogue will be released by November
07. For information on the Pact Group visit
www.pactgroup.co.nz. Blue Oyster Art Space- www.blueoyster.org.nz
the surface then start digging
There’s no destination in these visual portals; tales told
Destruction, erosion, the blue buzz of sadness, pointing
fingers, a kicked heart, all yield to one, two, seven colours
and the dust in between becomes a hug to the face.
Escape. Escape and bring something back. Escape and have
something to give.
Communicate, unite, combine, sing.
A chorus on stilts
Opening, Installing, Photography by Dillon Ryan
Catalogue design Adam Douglass
(The Late) Brendon Alexander
Aleta Del Toro-Madrigal
Jampa Lhuntok Namgyal-
Janet De Waght
Lara Fischel Chisholm
Kathleen Jordan (Samuels)
(The Late) Christine Kendal
Kristi Mae Carpenter
Josephine Regan,Mary Reet, Paul Reet
Joanna Kate Smith
Pam Te Tau
Ron Te Tau
Yi Lin Yoong