Hiro’s artwork journey goes full circle with Mental Health Minister

Young artist Hiro Kojo presents NSW Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor with her first commissioned artwork, a mandala.

The Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor met Hiro Kojo a year ago and was so moved hearing how art helped the 19 year old’s mental health treatment, she commissioned her to produce an artwork for her ministerial office.

Hiro is both an artist and graduate of the ENABLE program at Westmead Hospital’s Redbank House – a tailored mental health program that allows patients to transition out of hospital and back into their regular lives.

This month, Hiro was welcomed by Minister Taylor at her Sydney office for the delivery of the first commissioning the artist had ever received.

The artwork took Hiro three weeks to complete and despite its detail and complex nature, Hiro said she didn’t plan the pattern.

“It’s a spiritual painting showing someone as a whole – the connectedness between you and the spiritual world,” Hiro said, explaining it was founded on the Japanese spiritual concept of musubi.

The artwork is a mandala, representing the cycle and connectedness of life.

“This represents my journey through the mental health system and living with mental illness; the struggle I went through, the mistakes I made and my determination to not give up.

“A journey that definitely was not easy, but one that led me to follow my passion for the arts, and truly showed to me the connectedness of all the negative and positive experiences we go through,” Hiro said.

Minister Taylor gave Hiro a gift of her own in return – a #BossLady cap!

Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor joked she was “a self-confessed art bogan” but was moved by the beautiful artwork when unveiled to her.

“It brings you a lot of peace looking at it. It’s already the prize of the office,” the Minister said.

Hiro Kojo is among those to have benefited from ENABLE program, having initially been treated in Redbank House during a high-risk period in her life.

ENABLE – designed for young people with severe mental health issues including self-harm, acute suicidal ideation, mood disorders and psychosis – supported Hiro’s successful transition to supported accommodation within the community and she is now studying nursing at TAFE.

Western Sydney Local Health District Perinatal, Child and Youth Mental Health Services operations manager Sumithira Joseph said, “it’s an honour to see the true recovery in a young person.”

“I’ve can read briefs and memos but nothing means as much to me as meeting Hiro and hearing about human experiences,” Minister Taylor said.

“It’s such a gift to have gotten to know Hiro.”