Phoenix: A Celebration of Creative Wellbeing

Stephanie Grose, Full Circle, 2009
Rebecca McNab, We Stand With You, 2019
Rebecca Yianakis, In The Hive, 2019
Liam McGurk, Smoking Line, 2018
Kate Weir, Short Of Cash, 2019
Barbara Rule, Rainbow Colours, 2018
Phoenix Exhibition Celebrates Creative Wellbeing


A new exhibition, Phoenix, will open on Saturday 6 July at Tūranga in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square and will celebrate how creativity and wellbeing are interwoven.

Phoenix, symbolising the regeneration and rebirth of the mythical firebird, represents the pathway that creativity offers through trauma and distress.

Featuring work by 34 artists from Christchurch Studio Room 5, a collective of artists with experience of mental distress, the exhibition puts the spotlight on the powerful role creativity can play in building wellbeing.

Room 5 artist Rebecca Yianakis says, “I love what the Phoenix represents for me. What I go through is cyclical, and the Phoenix goes through a cycle. I feel like with each cycle I become a stronger person, almost re-born in a way – just like the Phoenix.”

“I think we’re proving to the community that creativity and wellness go hand in hand.”

Ōtautahi Creative Spaces director Kim Morton says the unique wellbeing challenges faced in Christchurch following the earthquakes and recent terrorist attack on the Muslim community means the city can be a place for innovation in creative wellbeing.

“We welcome the new arts strategy for Christchurch, Toi Ōtautahi, which has a vision of Christchurch as a pioneer of creative wellbeing,” Kim says.

“We urge people to get behind Toi Ōtautahi because the wellbeing needs here are enormous and the mental health system is struggling to cope. Art and creativity have a hugely positive role to play in the wellbeing of our communities but what it will take is a coordinated approach – not just the arts community driving this, but health and social development as well.”

The exhibition at Tūranga is the latest venture in a close relationship between Christchurch City Libraries and Ōtautahi Creative Spaces.

“The purpose of the Christchurch City Libraries is to connect people, inspire discovery and enrich communities” says Chris Hay, Manager of Tūranga. “Phoenix will be a meaningful exhibition for the city. We’re enjoying the partnership with Ōtautahi Creative Spaces and we’re looking forward to seeing our public spaces and library resources utilised to help broaden the important discussion about health and wellbeing in Christchurch.”

“We’re honoured to be exhibiting at Tūranga, which lives and breathes creativity,” Kim says. “We’ve got a lot in common with the Auahatanga Creativity floor at Tūranga in particular.”

Phoenix is accompanied by pop-up drawing sessions, art workshops and a book display. The closure of the exhibition on 10 August will be marked by a creative wellbeing expo featuring displays by creative wellbeing organisations in Christchurch and a panel discussion.

Further information: 

Exhibition dates:       Saturday 6 July to Saturday 10 August

Exhibition opening: Saturday 6 July 2 – 3pm

Place:                         Exhibition Space  Hapori | Community, Level 1, Tūranga, 60 Cathedral Square

About Ōtautahi Creative Spaces

Ōtautahi Creative Spaces was established in Christchurch in 2015 in response to the mental distress in the community following the earthquakes.  Our kaupapa is to transform lives through creative pathways. Based at our studio Room 5 at the Phillipstown Community Hub, we support 65 artists with experience of mental distress to pursue their aspirations, through studio groups, artist mentoring, collaborative projects and by brokering opportunities to engage with contemporary art.

An evaluation undertaken by Ihi Research in 2017 found that Ōtautahi Creative Spaces’ programmes had a profound impact on artists’ wellbeing, and that identity as an artist was the catalyst for change. For the full report:

In 2018 Ōtautahi Creative Spaces was awarded the Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award.


For more information and copies of high resolution images:

Contact Kim Morton, Director, 022 064 7963



Contact details: 
Contact Kim Morton, Director, 022 064 7963

Written by

Ōtautahi Creative Spaces

1 Jul 2019