The Secret Keeper is an exhibition like no other.
Catherine Daniels has spent five years creating characters to tell her story of childhood trauma and years of sexual abuse.
"It wasn't until I was nearly 50 that I realised my secrets had made me sick," she says.
Following successful exhibitions in Palmerston North and at the Whanganui Community Arts Centre, the 49 mixed media sculptures are moving to a new and appropriate destination for a week-long show — Whanganui Hospital.
Steve Carey, integrated community impact strategist for the Whanganui District Health Board, says he was told about the exhibition by his colleague Alex Kemp, chief allied professions officer.
"She suggested we should have a look at the exhibition at the Community Arts Centre ... Just the sheer impact of seeing the exhibition was pretty powerful."
Steve is the father of young twins and found himself able to relate to the figures in Catherine's show. His paternal instinct kicked in: he felt the need to protect children from experiencing what Catherine lived.
"I then had the opportunity to not only bring our Kaihautu Hauora chief executive Russell Simpson down, but also have a conversation with Catherine about the impact on the community she's been having through this medium.
"It's the first of its kind in the world ... and it tells an important story, that we have an ability to have therapeutic outcomes that don't need to be verbal, that can be through art and creativity.
"Catherine is having people open up to her in ways that traditional services can sometimes struggle to do. It also gives clinicians an insight into the world of a person that has this type of lived experience."
Steve says it made sense to bring the exhibition into the hospital, giving clinicians, patients and more members of the public the opportunity to see it.
A video accompanies the exhibition.
"I saw the video first, and I thought, this is pretty confronting: this is a traditionally tapu, hidden away, secretive thing, and this is what [Catherine] is bringing out into the light.
"By enabling conversations to be started, people can start dealing with and working through those traumatic experiences, be it through working with counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health teams ..."
He says Catherine's experiences and subsequent trauma, illustrated in artistic format, have opened the dialogue.
Viewing the exhibition should have a positive effect on clinicians, who will further understand the steps people take to deal with or hide from their abusive lived experiences.
"The longer we continue to push this to the side and treat it as a taboo subject, the longer this type of stuff will continue. By bringing it to the light, starting a conversation, as awkward as it is, it is important for personal and community healing.
"The DHB is taking this on board by bringing it on site, but we're also looking at how we can support to push it out further into the community."
The exhibition is housed in Room 1, next to the Lecture Theatre on the ground floor. It is signposted and is open to all until Friday, from 9am to 5pm – free entry.