As a therapist and self-taught artist, l’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.
In 2013, I suddenly and unexpectedly lost 80% of my vision. My blindness affects my focal vision the most, so producing accurate colours, fine lines and textural detail is difficult for me now. But I love texture and detail very much, so I use the colours and textures already available in recycled magazine papers. I especially love the rich, vibrant colours printed on glossy magazine papers, and the way that cuttings of magazine imagery and even lettering can create interesting and unexpected textural details. Using magazine papers in this way feels like a practice of accepting and choosing to collaborate with the constraints that I live with, and finding the spaces where I still have agency and creativity. Through my artwork, l’m able to clearly see and appreciate the unique beauty and meaning that I can create, not lust in spite of my constraints, but because of my constraints.
Given my experiences of being a transplant recipient, adoptive mother, and specialist grief support therapist, I also deeply resonate with the metaphors of breaking apart and coming back together in new combinations. I delight in layering pieces from different beginnings together to make something new that honours all of the unique and rich textures in each layer. I love how the layering process parallels therapeutic and healing processes, where we often revisit themes, each time adding new layers of nuance, insight, and possibility.
My magazine paper collages are a celebration of the visual qualities that I can still see and appreciate: composition, colour, and light. The subjects I choose are most often simple, ordinary things in life that offer a universal kind of pleasure that’s relatively accessible to us all, regardless of our social location, such as botanicals, natural landscapes, and sky scapes.
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 triggers germination in the nutrient-rich ashen soil, and 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!
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Artworks by Cath Duncan featured in previous exhibitions at Bright Street Gallery