Julie Zapasa was diagnosed with bipolar disorder during her final year of university in 1994.

She was studying an arts degree and was determined to complete it. The Melton South woman has been working as an artist since and says the “meditational qualities” of art has helped her realise her potential.

“Art validates my state of mind by being a vehicle for self-expression,” Zapasa says. “It has … strengthened my sense of identity and has given me a lot of self-discipline.

“It also connects me with other people who suffer mental health issues from all walks of life.”

Zapasa has launched her latest exhibition,

A Few Words on Elusive Soul, which showcases the “confronting” yet “peculiar sense of beauty” of the human spirit.

Zapasa says she used Picasso-like distortions to paint Integration of Irene (pictured) to express her experiences with mental illness.

Her paintings will be on display at SmartArt Gallery, 1/40 Smith Street, Melton until April 21.