The one-day-only youth art expo featured more than 150 art works and performances by around 100 artists aged between 11 and 25 years. The art expo’s theme promoted wellness and resilience in young people by celebrating their talent and involvement in many forms of art, and was entirely organised by young Bounce volunteers.

Bounce is a New Zealand Red Cross peer education project that was developed after the Canterbury earthquakes. Run by young people for young people, it provides a platform for youth ambassadors to share wellbeing tips and advice with their peers to empower them and encourage emotional wellbeing and resilience.

“A lot of young people think wellbeing is about meditation but it is just as often about what they are already doing,” organiser Isabella Garnett says. “This expo is about making wellbeing more understandable. Art gives young people the ability to share their life and feelings in a way that is unique. Art is such an open form of expression,” she explains.

Bounce volunteer Jasmine Irving, one of the volunteers who first developed the idea for a youth art expo, says: “I liked the idea of an art exhibition because I saw all the arts students at school put so much hard work into their portfolios. The artworks get sent away to get graded and never really get seen again. It’s only fair that that their work gets to be showcased to the world.”

“The ideas and values that Bounce brings to the table help remind people what is truly important; for example, self-expression,” explains James Lim, another Bounce volunteer.

More than 200 people came to see the drawings, paintings, photographs, spray painting art, bodypainting and 3D art and to watch a variety of performances.

Many of the young students had never heard of the Centre of Contemporary Art before and were impressed by how youth-friendly the space was.

“I’m in love with this place. It’s so cool,” says 22-year-old Stevie-Lee Clark after delivering a spoken word piece.

One art work that drew particular attention was a huge korowai made by students from Heaton Normal Intermediate School. The cloak has been decorated with waka and kupu printed with woodcuts. The waka display what each student is taking with them from the past and what they might need in the future, while sailing on a sea of kupu representing what they believed were their strongest character strengths.

"Some of our students, who do not find verbal expression easy, have shown themselves to be visually articulate through their art work,” says the school’s visual art specialist Fiona Taylor. “Their designs are both complex and unique.”

“Art makes me feel inspired,” 24-year-old exhibitor Matt Hill says. “Everything has an emotional connection.”

“I believe everyone should take care of themselves physically and mentally but especially young people: too often we neglect the mental side of things,” James adds.

For more information about the Bounce project or to volunteer contact Amber Paterson, Project Coordinator.