Committee Spotlight: Army Mum Reigniting Army Art

~Michelle Saleeba

Sunday 13th May is Mother's Day and Army Art would like to pay tribute to all the wonderful Mum's who have given their time to make the exhibition such a fabulous event since it's inception in 1974.

Army Art is proud of the connection many of our committee members and volunteers have to the Defence force. With Army mums, spouses and family members, as well as serving and ex-serving members, playing a huge part in the ongoing success of the event.

This year Army Art has a new Chair who has taken on the challenge of growing the event and guiding it into the future with dynamic new stakeholder investment. A challenge that Army officer and mum of four Viv Blycha is well placed to undertake.

Viv shares her excitement at being involved with Army Art, how she uses painting and drawing as a means of proactive self care, and the rewarding experience of forging a career in the Army.

Australian Army member Vivian Blycha supports Army Art fundraising for current and former australian defence force families
Vivian Blycha

Army Art: What inspired you to become involved with Army Art?

Viv Blycha: I was originally involved in Army Art by invitation from the then Chair. I was posted to WA in 2006 and the Committee was looking for new members. Guidelines of the Committee state that there must always be a healthy representation of Committee members who have a direct link to the services (either have served, currently served or have immediate family in that situation). Once I started, I 'caught the bug' and realised that Army Art was a great organisation doing great things for other Community groups.

After a year without an exhibition people are quite excited the event is back for 2018! What are you looking forward to about this year’s event?

This years event sees the convergence of a large group of people who are determined to continue the traditions of the past. Many have openly expressed their desire to see Army Art continue – not only to support our beneficiaries, but because Army Art is a well known platform used to showcase some of WA's finest artists (established and upcoming). This platform has been sorely missed and personally I am looking forward to the new friends and bonds that will be established through the process of reigniting such a great event.

What was your motivation for joining the Army?

I have a long line of family members who have served in the Army and as the youngest of four siblings and one of the younger of my extended family, I watched my Brother and Cousins flourish in their Army careers. Hearing stories and watching their progress from the sidelines, I was exposed to some of the experiences on offer in the forces. Joining Cadets and then Army Reserves, the next logical progression was to give full time Army a shot. I have enjoyed every minute (well most) and am thankful for the people I have met along the way.

What are/have been the most rewarding aspects of your career?

I have been fortunate to have deployed to a variety of places around the world and have employed my training as it was intended. These deployments have provided me with opportunities to challenge myself and truly understand what type of person I had become. Being a part of such great teams throughout my career has also been a rewarding part of serving. The friendships made are second to none and ones that I will cherish always.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the ADF who might be concerned whether it’s a good fit with being a mum.

Go for it. The ADF is not archaic, but works hard to assist all its members to find a balance in their work life. You will be expected to work hard in return and ultimately, if the rubber hit the road, work life balance is no longer a consideration and you would be required to sacrifice time with your family and apply your new skills wherever they are needed.

Australian Army member Vivian Blycha supports Army Art fundraising for current and former australian defence force families

Army Arts theme for the 2018 Exhibition is Transition. Has making art helped you with any important life transitions?

Throughout my life, I have been encouraged to be a creative thinker. My Mum was a High School Art teacher and my Dad was handy with anything and everything. I was allowed to draw, paint, sculpt, tinker, dig and build. These skills have been extended into everything I have done since being a child, drawing on creative thinking and applying this to daily work and life problems.

Pastel painting in particular has provided a refuge from those days when you encounter 'the grind'. I find painting to be a way of escaping from anxiety that enters your life during periods of high intensity or uncertainty. For me, that has been during periods of transition.

Describe how you came to start making art?

My Mum always encouraged me to create. In High School, I undertook TEE Art and was selected to submit a piece into the Year 12 Perspectives, displayed at the WA Art Gallery. Since then, I have had very little time to paint, but recently have started making the time again.

Australian Army member Vivian Blycha supports Army Art fundraising for current and former australian defence force families

How would you describe your current work?

At the moment, I am working with Chalk Pastels. I find they are quick and manageable noting I can put it down and come back to a painting without having to worry about paint brushes and paint drying out. I have focussed on landscapes mainly, trying to capture the places I love and feel happiness in.

What encouragement would you give to a person who may not think of themself as creative, but is interested in the wellbeing benefits of an art practice?

If you can hold a pencil or brush, everyone can draw and paint. Start small and simple, then let yourself explore. Remember, there is not right or wrong with Art – so no pressure except that which you place on yourself. Let go and enjoy the feeling.

#VivBlycha #committeemember #Army #painting #drawing #mothersday #ArmyArt


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