Men with Heart by Paul Hoelen
With photography by Paul Hoelen, Men with Heart is an interactive, multi-media exhibition giving an intimate, positive, and thoughtful insight into the state of men in Tasmanian culture today.
Having committed close to two decades of his life documenting these men’s journeys, most of Hoelen’s imagery has been captured while attending the powerful and moving Tasmanian Men’s Gatherings – an annual event held in a bush camp for men, run by skilled facilitators. The event is designed to support men to become more healthy, balanced, and empowered people, and ultimately better fathers, brothers, uncles and sons. He is also one of the men sharing his journey as part of the installation.
Paul Hoelen has had the sole privilege of documenting the Gathering’s in complete confidentiality over the last 17 years, and the immense level of trust and respect built over that time – both given and received – has enabled him to produce a deeply insightful and unique body of work in both its intimacy and scope. The Tasmen community has decided to open up this window into the Gatherings to the wider world for the very first time.
With the help of a community arts grant and a team of volunteers, the exhibition includes 45 powerful, evocative, and insightful images, almost all of which are accompanied by written stories, poems, and insights from the men within them to give context and add depth to the visual narrative they already hold. Along with the photography are 13 revealing video interviews by freelance filmmaker Troy Melville where men speak open-heartedly and frankly of what their participation at the gatherings has meant to them in their lives and the various issues they face as men.
“In a time where the media often portrays the darker side of what men are capable of, we hope this exhibition will inspire people to witness, believe and know there are plenty of men out there willing and able to support each other to face their issues and challenges head-on with the right support – and that have the motivation and courage to do what they can to become better men…,” Hoelen said.
The exhibition was also recently announced as the winner of the 2019 Tasmania Men’s Health Awards.