Zelda Bruce with her mosaic chess pieces. PHOTO/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI
soumya.bhamidipati@age.co.nz

A two-week arts festival will be returning to Featherston at the end of the month, with the aim of raising funds for charity.

Organiser Zelda Bruce said the Yebo Wildflower festival was an event where people could gather to enjoy art, live music, and food.

The name ‘Wildflower’ came from the original 2019 event.

“What is a wildflower?” Bruce asked. “It’s the inner child that can come and do art without the rules in our head.”

“It’s just your interpretation, and it’s about having fun.”

The 2021 festival would include workshops on mosaics, sculpting, vision boards, self-portraiture, crystals, DIY skincare, ceramics, and art therapy, she said.

Some events would be themed around specific artists and occasions, such as Jackson Pollock, Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.

A full moon cacao ceremony would be held one night.

Profits raised from ticket sales would go to Life Flight, an organisation Bruce had personal experience with.

“This is really about fundraising and awareness for Life Flight,” she said.

“During covid, they still had to do a heavy workload, but their fundraisers got cancelled.”

Bruce was badly burnt during a petrol explosion in November 2008.

She was taken to Hutt Hospital by Life Flight.

“If it wasn’t for the Life Flight helicopter who got me to the hospital on time after the petrol explosion, I wouldn’t be here today.”

The covid lockdown had hit her harder than most.

“Being in isolation brought back those memories of isolation in the hospital and years that I basically lived like a hermit,” Bruce said.

“My anxiety was totally out of control.”

Because of this, and as the previous festival had failed to raise as much money as she hoped, Bruce had had no intentions of repeating the festival.

However, she was inspired to try again after completing a life-coaching course post-lockdown.

“What do you want to do in your life that you would regret not doing?” she said, “I don’t want to be 80 and sit there and realise that I had all this potential in my hands but haven’t used it.”

“Even though I couldn’t raise the money I wanted for Life Flight for the last one, it now is an opportunity if we get to learn from the previous event.

“Some of my most interesting art pieces come from making a mistake.”

Wildflower would allow people to try new things and to connect with others, she said.

“For me, it is about; dreams do come true, just not the way you think,” Bruce said.

“You do get amazing small festivals, and I think sometimes they’re more intimate … people get chances to talk to each other.”

“The first step is to have a dream, and it will take you on a journey.

“I started with a dream, and it was my dream, and now it’s a group of us dreaming together.

“It’s about sharing the dream.”

For Bruce, art has helped her to deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder from her accident.

“I started painting simply as therapy,” she said.

“There’s so many people who suffer from post-traumatic stress; it is so misunderstood.

“You would sit writing an email to your friend and before you know it you’re telling her about all these things that happened years ago.

“It’s like a video in your brain that you can’t turn off.”

PTSD could go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed as other mental health disorders, Bruce said.

“And the only way you know the difference is if [a counsellor] sees the same person over a period of time.”

“It should be post-traumatic stress reaction because it’s a normal reaction to a very stressful event.”

The festival would be held from January 29 to February 14.

  • For full details and a programme, visit www.yebowildflowerfestival.art


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