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The first Coat of Many Colours two-day workshop was planned and directed in 2004. For the original participants in the program it was the start of what was to be an enjoyable and enriching experience.

The finished decorated coats, in the context of the program, represent much more than just an item of clothing. The coats become a protective shield - a barrier from the outside world - a warm and secure place and much more. Every experience is unique and the artists use creative self expression to build unusual, even outlandish, outer cocoons, whilst exploring and preserving their private inner world.

The artists use an assortment of stencils and printing blocks to add texture and form by overlaying colours, designs, patterns and shapes. Bubble wrap and kitchen utensils produce unexpected and sometimes startling visual effects. Spending time slowly building up the rich textures and patterns that form the basic design, each artist enjoys the creative process, gaining confidence to create new patterns and designs. 

The universal theme of peace and love was common across the completed designs. Joy in music, and care for the environment, were delicately reproduced using symmetric designs drawn from nature. The obvious sense of pride and achievement expressed by the artists, as they talked about their designs and paraded their work at the conclusion of the program, spoke volumes about art as a truly recreational therapy and its effect on the wellbeing of the participants. 

The ongoing and far reaching effects of the Coat of Many Colours women’s health and wellbeing program may only be fully realized over time. But every time one of the artists puts on her coat she relives the experience of creating a unique and beautiful artwork.




Written and directed by Dr. Julie Gross McAdam

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