Healing Ground 2018 - 2019



As significant as Port Arthur – but derelict for years – Forum and Open Day Celebrates

the Repair of a National Treasure in New Town


Kickstart Arts is proud to announce the repair a nationally significant heritage building - 

the former Queens Orphanage for Boys in St Johns Park, New Town, built in 1831. 


The St Johns Park Orphanage buildings have always been about poverty, poor health and social inequality. They were part of the early colonial convict system where children of poor people were confined in cramped and cold living quarters under harsh discipline, with poor food and little education.


Kickstart Arts is embarking upon a project to understand our past in order to create a better future. We are bringing new life and purpose to the St Johns Park site, moving from a colonial past to a future that embodies the values of sharing, respect, creativity, equity and diversity.


The Creative Living Centre will house a community of organisations and individuals developing new ways of taking action to improve Tasmanian’s health, wellbeing, education and working together on creative solutions for living with the reality of climate change.



Healing Ground is an arts project in which 7 professional artists will develop site-specific artworks with community members and residents of New Town and the Creative Living Park that respond to the past, present & future of the iconic colonial heritage spaces at St Johns Park.


New artworks that include visual art, fibre art, poetry, digital art, installations and sculpture are being developed during 2018, and they will be produced for a public audience as part of the launch of the Creative Living Centre phase one in mid 2019.


Until now there has been little formal recognition that these colonial spaces are built upon Aboriginal land, land that had for centuries been the cultural heritage of the mouheneener people.


Built in the early 1830’s during Governor George Arthur’s reign, the ex girls and boys orphanages, infant school and church buildings were part of the early colonial convict system. Children of poor people and stolen Aboriginal children were confined in cramped and cold living quarters under harsh discipline, with poor food, inadequate clothing and little education.


While the site represented the colonial government’s institutional spirit of charity, of care and the ‘improvement’ of the ‘destitute,’ as they were termed in the nineteenth century, it has always been about poverty, poor health and social inequality.


Ultimately the site represents the imposition of an authoritarian white institutionalised colonial culture on Aboriginal land.  It is the contemporary echoes and parallels of this story we wish to explore, and ultimately to change, to turn around.


Issues of Aboriginal sovereignty, social inequality and government’s role in providing for the health, education, housing and welfare of its citizens are hot topics in 2018 in Australia and globally.


 The Healing Ground project offers opportunities for contemporary artists and community to explore and respond to these questions.  


How to find us

Click on link below