Defiant, Beyond Empathy

About This Project

Defiant established by Beyond Empathy is a multi-disciplinary art project aiming to disrupt risk-taking behaviour in First Nation young people from Lismore and the surrounding areas. Young people are working collaboratively with local and professional artists to create public art including; highly ornamental surf boards, large scale photos/text paste-ups, murals, zines, moving images, music and pop-up dance performances. A partnership project with Lismore Regional Gallery, Defiant aims to use art to combat ways of thinking that may be contributing to the devastating rates of suicide in the region.  Defiant also aims to create opportunities for local First Nation artists and cultural workers to work with their community with a focus on healing.


Led by these local First Nation artists, young people use story, visual arts, photography, music and movement to share stories of their lived experiences, reclaim their voice and overcome feelings of powerlessness. The local artists apply a trauma-informed practice, using BE’s wellbeing framework and the third space approach to meet the needs of young people.


In the third space cultural, two-way learning occurs, in which each party shares knowledge and learns from the other. No one presumes superiority. This balance activates a rich and fluid environment for creating and learning. The purpose of regular art workshops in DEFIANT is to activate this space time and time again. The artists and young people are joined in this space through the creative process and the art creates a new and shared language, where people understand their own worth and the worth of others.


The process of creating artworks is grounded in nurturing culture and identity, connecting the young people with their community as a way of building resilience and promoting positive patterns of relating. The overall aim of DEFIANT is to begin a conversation between the young people and the broader community and thereby, creating stronger support for and recognition of their perspectives that ultimately leads to improved wellbeing outcomes for the young people.