IN 2011, Heiser Gallery founderand director Bruce Heiser selected six artists from Wesley Mission Brisbane's Art From The Margins program to participate in a mentoring program. Many months of dreaming, creating and hard work later, the mentorship has culminated in the Heiser Gallery Emerging Artists Exhibition. According to Mr Heiser, there was no formal structure in the mentoring program, giving it the freedom to mould to each individual artist and their creative style. "From my perspective it was about supporting the artists and giving them a feeling of confidence," he said. "That was the most important thing for me, to empower them and give them positive feedback so they would feel they were able to make a positive contribution." In addition to providing support and feedback from an artistic perspective, the mentoring program allowed Mr Heiser to build more personal connections with the artists. "It was great getting to know those individual people further, not just as artists, but as individuals, and that was really rewarding. I just wanted to bring out the very best in their work that I could, and I think we've succeeded in doing that," said Mr Heiser. The Heiser Gallery Emerging Artists Exhibition, held at New Farm's Graydon Gallery in March, featured the best work of each artist. Mr Heiser said the work presented illustrated that all the artists had developed creatively. Over the years Mr Heiser has seen the artists grow in confidence, which translates through to their work. Art from the Margins Director (and Queensland Synod 2012 Calendar judge), Anthony Anderton, said the Heiser Emerging Artist Award will continue to be a regular part of the Brisbane Festival Exhibition. "This year Bruce will take another look at the work shown at the festival and identify up to six artists he sees as having the potential to take their work to the next level for inclusion in the mentoring program." Art from the Margins is built on a belief in the transformative power of art – a belief Mr Heiser also holds to be true. "Art gives us the ability to move into other spaces and places," said Mr Heiser. "Art enriches society; it's such an important thing. Without art – what are we? Art in any number of genres enriches our lives tremendously." The very nature of dealing with the creative process can be challenging at times, but Mr Heiser said he found his involvement to be a very positive experience. "What Wesley does for these people is so wonderful. A lot of them would just slip through the cracks – and that's a very sad thing to contemplate. So it was an honour to be involved. I think if you can empower somebody and help them in their life in anyway you can, it's a good thing. That was the joy of doing it." Mr Anderton said Art from the Margins is continuing to expand to support artists. "We've commenced offering art workshops in print making and drawing. It's a great way to give a small group of artists the opportunity to engage with us in new ways, to expand their skills, network with other artists and find new opportunities to present their work to audiences."