Empowering artists with intellectual disability

As We Are is an important Western Australian
community initiative that aims to bring joy and
wellbeing to the lives of artists with
intellectual disability.


As We Are Art Awards

Our annual state-wide exhibition and awards
program showcases the talents of WA artists
with intellectual disability.


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Janine Egan

Tell us a little bit about yourself ….

My name is Janine Egan. I was born in Perth, but lived in Adelaide and Melbourne before coming to Bunbury in 2004. I have three sisters – Lisa, Meredith and Carlene. I live with my parents, and see my sisters and their families on a regular basis. I really enjoy nature, and find a lot of joy in flowers and plants. I like going on outings and having experiences in the community. I enjoy going for drives, having lunch outings, and visiting towns and villages in the South West.


‘Hibiscus,’ 2012, mixed media; Janine’s 2012 As We Are Art Award entry

When and how did you first became interested in art?

I remember being interested in art when I was as young as nine or ten. I’ve tried many different things since then: hand built pottery, paper making, using ink blots, drawing, painting and collage. I started attending a regular art group at Morrissey Homestead in Bunbury. Then, in 2012 I applied to participate in the Art Partners program. I was accepted and was matched with mentor Hannah Armstrong. Together we attended a John Pasco class at the Bunbury Regional Art Galleries (BRAG). Many exciting things have happened since then. Having so many different experiences with both Morrissey and Art Partners has really kept me interested in my art.


‘Blue Angel,’ collage

What mediums do you work with?  Which is your favourite and why?

My focus at the moment is working with acrylics on canvas, but I love collage. In 2012, I participated in a couple of collage workshops at The Red Mill Store Studio Gallery in Bunbury. These workshops were run by artist Linda Misa. I attended the sessions with mentor Bronwyn Muller. I really liked my first collage experience because many steps were involved – deciding on the idea for the collage, tearing paper, choosing fabric, gluing and painting. I liked the fact that I could keep adding to my collage. It was always changing.


‘Stained glass window,’ acrylic on canvas

What inspires your art practice?

I’m really inspired by being in the Art Partners program. There is so much variety. This really inspires me. Art Partners has let me work in different locations with many different mentors and tutors. I have had the chance to work with so many people that Art Partners started saying that I was in a ‘community mentorship.’ Judi McGuigan is my now my main mentor, and along with Hannah and Bronwyn, I have worked with Helen, Maureen, Edy and Wanda. Judi and I are now in a class at The Red Mill which is led by Rocheen Navarro. But I have also attended the classes led by John at BRAG, and the workshops led by Linda at The Red Mill.

Working with all these people means that I have tried many different techniques. When I was mentored by Maureen, she showed me the ‘plastic wrap’ technique which I found really effective. I did the background to Hibiscus using the plastic wrap. At the beginning of our weekly classes at The Red Mill, Rocheen always shows us a new technique. I really enjoy this part of the class because everyone is doing the same thing at the same time. It’s good to see how everyone in the class is trying the new technique. This chance to try new things really inspires my art practice.

I find that going to exhibitions is very inspiring. On Ladies’ Day with Morrissey, we have visited Jane Flower’s gallery Folios and Fibre near Bunbury as well as the Lyndendale Gallery in the Ferguson Valley.

In 2012, I had a volunteer job organized by Morrissey. I helped arrange flowers at Bunbury Flower Place. I really enjoyed this as it reminded me of my love of flowers which inspires my art.


Trying new techniques

Where do you create your artwork?

I used to attend a weekly evening class at BRAG. At the beginning of this year, I switched to a class at The Red Mill. Most weeks, I participate in an art group run by Morrissey at their venue in Leschenault. From time to time, I create art work at my home in Bunbury.

How would you describe your artistic style?

This is a very difficult question, and I don’t know the answer. We asked my sister Lisa who is an artist. She says that I’m a colourist. That makes sense because other people say that I use colour very well. And, I remember Edy, who was in my class at BRAG, showing me some beautiful paintings in an art book. At the time, Edy said that maybe I’m a naïve artist.


Janine (right) and Judi creating in the BRAG studio

What’s the best thing about being an artist?

I am learning all the time, and that is the best thing about being an artist. At the end of Art Partners 2012, we had a tea to celebrate what everyone had done during the year. I wrote a thank you note which was read out to everyone who was present. At the end of my note, I said “I know that art is what I really want to do most of all. I want to continue to learn and grow more sure of myself. My world is now full of happy thoughts and colour.”

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

I would tell people to try to find an organized program that supports their art interests. Mentors are really great because they provide encouragement along the way. Participating in a regular art class is very helpful as well. Exhibitions too are wonderful. They provide the chance for people to see their work alongside other people’s work. In 2012, I exhibited in Capel Flair, part of Capel Fest. I also had work in the Mental Health Week Exhibition in Bunbury, and As We Are. I sold both of the works I entered in As We Are, and that gave me a lot of confidence. I went to the exhibition along with my family and other relatives. I saw my works alongside about 140 others! Also in 2012, I donated a framed photograph of one of my collages. This work was a raffle item at a charity fundraiser. I attended the fundraiser, and met the woman who chose my work as her prize. This year, my first exhibition will be the Dardanup Art Spectacular. I’m entering my stained glass window painting to fit with the exhibition theme of ‘windows.’ So, yes, I would say exhibiting is important for aspiring artists. I would tell them to make sure they attend their exhibitions!


June 2013

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Article and photographs supplied by Janine Noonan with support from Wanda Ariano, Art Partners