Arts Lab

Arts Lab

Since the inception of Insight Exchange, we have been learning about and taking up our responsibility to carefully and ethically represent experiences of domestic and family violence, in order to inform social, service and system responses.

“The problem of violence is inextricably linked to the problem of representation”[1]

The Language Lab on Insight Exchange draws directly from the important work of Centre for Response-Based Practice, Canada. The Language Lab provides information on the role of language in representing violence and abuse, and tools to help us use language to more accurately represent violence and other adversities.[1]

From late 2020 we have broadened our focus on the representation of domestic and family violence beyond  language to also include visual arts.

[1] Dr Linda Coates and Dr Allan Wade (2007), 'Language and Violence: Analysis of Four Discursive Operations', Journal of Family Violence, 22:511-522.

Our Intention

  • To provide ways to engage with lived experience insights about domestic and family violence beyond relying on the written word.
  • To illuminate visual metaphors and symbols used by Insight Exchange participants as part of how they describe their lived experience.
  • To generate new visual representations of violence in public imagery that centre on dignity and are informed by lived experience insights.
  • Use imagery to ignite curiosity and engagement across sectors and community toward listening to and reflecting on insights from people with lived experience of domestic, family and sexualised violence.

We acknowledge that despite our best efforts to assemble with a person a more accurate representation of some of their experiences of violence, we can never fully understand all that their experiences mean to them now or through their life.  We understand that no one’s life experience can ever be fully represented in language or any other form.

Specific collections and initiatives

You can read more about these collections lower on this page

Explore more about The Creative Book Exchange on the dedicated landing page

Explore original works created by collaborating artist Louise Whelan in response to donated poetry on the Voices Unsilenced landing page.

Voices of Insight Collection

The Voices of Insight Collection is a series of original artworks inspired by the Insight Exchange Voices of Insight narratives. The initiative is designed to illuminate visual metaphors and symbols used by Insight Exchange participants as part of how they describe their lived experiences of domestic and family violence to inform social, service and systemic responses.

Explore the view the Voices of Insight Collection in full.

Read the artist statement.

Read about the Voices of Insight Collection with collaborating Artist Louise Whelan

No Hidden Door Collection

The artworks are designed to illuminate the importance of making the ‘door’ of responding services/organisations more visible to the public, and valued ongoingly by industry as a social response to victim-survivors of domestic, family and sexualised violence. 

No Hidden Door collection created by Louise Whelan in collaboration with Insight Exchange. Open the No Hidden Door collection in a lightbox via the Arts lab collection page.

The No Hidden Door collection is part of the broader work of the  No Hidden Door initiative.

No Hidden Door Artist Talk

View the artists talk (8.5mins) or read the artist statement

What is your response?

Share your response to the collection (artworks and/artist talk)

"I’m so honored and grateful for this beautiful, complex and thoughtful art work. It blows my mind how your art work could speak so beautifully and yet in an unsettling manner of the complexities, danger and hope for help. I was thinking why (besides the beauty of the art itself) was I so moved and wanting to re-watch and re-watch...? Probably lots of reasons but I guess while listening and watching, we/I, the audience are suddenly transformed into 'doors'. Because the watching poses not a question but an interpellation: Who am I faced with at this door and the women outside/in-between the doors? What kind of door am I? How would I respond? How have I been responding? I also treasure that the pieces put me immediately in contact with the actual world, the materiality of the world and not the mind. It transported me to my surroundings and the attention to the doors around. Everyone is a door, no one should assume safety. I also really appreciated that you guide us through each piece. I don't have the schooling nor the intuition to “understand art” so it was a beautiful experience to actually experience the art with your telling. Thank you so much for creating this and putting it out in the world!"

Tania - Mexico (2022)

Strangulation Collection

The Arts Lab collections illuminate visual metaphors and symbols used by Insight Exchange participants as part of how they describe their lived experience. This collection of five original artworks by collaborating artist Louise Whelan feature in the Foundations Module - Understanding and responding to strangulation. The anonymous voice of a persons lived experience of strangulation is presented in text across the collection.

Open the collection in a lightbox via the In Focus Strangulation landing page

Are you wanting to use these original artworks in a specific project, presentation or event?

Voices of Insight Collection | Artworks © Louise Whelan. Original artworks created by collaborating artist Louise Whelan are protected by copyright. To use Arts Lab Collection images permission must be sought from Insight Exchange – Apply here

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