As a therapist and self-taught artist, I’m interested in all the ways that art and therapy intersect and enrich each other. My artwork, therefore, reflects many of my personal struggles and triumphs and has also been an important part of my meaning-making and healing.
At the age of 34, I suddenly and unexpectedly lost B0% of my vision. I had to find new ways of seeing my world and making art. Given my experiences of loss and grief, and being a transplant recipient, adoptive mother, and specialist in grief support, I deeply resonate with the metaphors invoked by creative processes like collage, mixed media, and expressive paintwork. These are metaphors of movement and transformation, of breaking apart and coming back together in new ways, and layering pieces from different beginnings together to make something new that honours all the unique and rich textures in each layer.
The subjects of my artworks are the visual and sensory experiences that bring me feelings I love to feel and insights I want to hold onto – most often in the form of botanicals, natural landscapes, big skies, and windy days. I love to explore the different ways that I can capture and represent light, movement, and texture through different art mediums.
My Beach Therapy collection of artworks is inspired by our weekend family trips to Noordhoek beach. The Covid pandemic has had a dramatic impact on my family. Even after vaccination, immunosuppressed transplant recipients are at high risk of severe illness and death if we get Covid, so our little family has had to keep our own unrelenting “lockdown’. Our weekend family outings to Noordhoek beach have become something of a therapeutic ritual that is restoring and sustaining us. Through the winter especially, we’ve delighted in the full sensory experience of the wide-open spaces, big and moody skies, wild winds, soft sand, thick mud, tingling salt, and frigid waters. And doing something together that we all love doing Is so bonding and nourishing. Every beach trip has had all of the same elements, in the same order every time… the longer-than-necessary drive to the beach, the same things we like to spot from the car as we journey, our beach sand and water playtime, and our stop off at the same coffee shop for the same crunchies to enjoy in the car on the long drive home. At another time in our lives, this repetition might have become boring, but amidst all the fear, loss, and uncertainty these days, we’re loving the predictability and reliability of this ritual. There’s one thing in the ritual that adds an exciting element of surprise and wonder… “our’ beach is dramatically transformed by weather changes. lt seems to have its own little climate quite independent of the rest of Cape Town’s weather, so you never know what the weather and beach adventure will be like until you get there. Unlike so many of life’s uncontrollable situations, this element of surprise comes with zero anxiety because EVERY weather and beach adventure has been beautiful in its own way!
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Artworks by Cath Duncan featured in previous exhibitions at Bright Street Gallery
Proteas are not only beautiful flowers. They are also deeply meaningful to me. They are very resilient plants that have adapted to survive droughts and fires. They have strong, well-developed roots, and the ability to resprout and reseed especially well after fires. Smoke and heat from fire trigger germination in the nutrient-rich ashen soil, and a new life begins again after fire, only more abundant than before. When we fully embrace the vulnerability and loss of the lives in life, and build within ourselves and our communities the character traits and skills that enable us to resprout, reseed, and thrive even more than before, that is true abundance!