Published by: K@ren on Tuesday, 05 October
Mason Roberts and Julia Catalano, two talented Perth-based artists, are the creative minds behind Kahkune – an inclusive art experience held fortnightly in Goolagatup, Heathcote (also known as Heathcote Cultural Precinct). The pair initially contacted Valued Lives Microenterprise Project earlier this year to explore a potential partnership, and Kahkune soon launched in May 2021! Each week, our artists build a range of valuable skills and learn about different styles of artwork. Working with mediums such charcoal, acrylic paint, watercolours and more, our artists continue to build a vibrant portfolio of portraits, cartoons, landscapes, and abstract works. Our group is working towards a final exhibition in early 2022 to showcase their talents, and their growth as artists.
Now that we’re approaching our 9th Kahkune session with Mason and Julia, we decided to sit down with the two artists to chat about their experience hosting Kahkune so far, and what the future of Kahkune holds!
Hi Mason and Julia! What have been some of your personal highlights since Kahkune started in May 2021?
Mason: I went into this having no knowledge of how to teach, or what to do, and thinking we wouldn’t really have an impact on people’s lives. We now actively see and hear stories from people who are smiling more and seeing improved mental health. We found out that it doesn’t take much, just us being there and communicating with people on a human level!
Julia: It’s been really special seeing the students flourish and grow, developing within themselves as individuals but also as artists. The relationships and the bonds that we’ve developed has been nice – very fulfilling and rewarding.
How have you seen people’s skills and talents grow or evolve since they’ve been taking your class?
Julia: That’s one of the best things about it all.
Mason: In terms of everyone, we’ve realised over time that the best way to teach is to focus on what each of our students actually wants to do, and what art style they prefer. For example, we found out that one of our students, Jase, likes to work with charcoal – we noticed the smile on his face while he was working with it. He was really in his groove – so we’ll often tailor each class to one student or a group of students, so everyone can share and learn using that style, which is awesome! Court is another example; he flourishes when I start to draw on the whiteboard because he’s so great at following instructions.
Julia: Skillset aside, to see people’s willingness to take risks and believe in themselves, which we’ve seen develop… the skills that they have obtained give them more confidence.
What’s something that you’ve found surprising while facilitating these sessions?
Mason: I didn’t expect to form such a close bond with everyone, and I didn’t expect it to be so focused on the interactions we have, rather than art. It’s about communication, which makes the art better, because we’re working as a collective to lift each other up and make each other feel good about our work. It’s such a positive environment – you come in here and everyone is smiling. Everyone is making jokes. No one is ever belittling – we’re all on an even playing field, which is the best.
Julia: Just seeing people from how they started off in the beginning until how they are now – some of these people started out very shy and reserved and didn’t have much confidence. To see people come out of their shells has been such a great experience.
Mason: When we started this journey… we realised that everyone in life needs purpose and something to look forward to. Working towards our exhibition encourages people to push through, even when life gets hard sometimes. That’s something I’ve realised going through this journey so far.
So… what do you think that the future of Kahkune holds?
Julia: I think the people who attend our classes have gained skills that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. Even if it is just putting some time aside during the day to work on art as a hobby, it’s something they can keep developing or use in their businesses.
Mason: We’re adapting each week. We’ll probably only know where we’re heading once we get there – like a final art exhibition where we can celebrate everyone’s growth throughout the year and look back as a retrospective.
Julia: Seeing the influence this has made to a small group of people, we’d like to influence so many more! We’d love to see this grow and flourish into something bigger.
Mason: We’d love to have Kahkune groups going all throughout W.A being led by like-minded people. The main reason we wanted to do this with Valued Lives is because we didn’t feel that anyone should pay – art classes are expensive! All that this takes is people donating their time and seeking a suitable space. It’s a no-brainer! If we could continue to do that, it’d be epic.