It’s Okay to Look (2020)

It’s Okay to Look (2020)
Acrylic on canvas
51.5 x 40.5 cm

It’s Okay To Look describes the tension between avoidance of feelings and tolerating feelings. It’s about the psychological work of being able to be with the feelings that arise from processing Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA). The painting has many layers of glazes and marks and helped me to process the complex feelings I had about CSA. When it was finished and I could see the totality of the complexity, I felt ‘seen’ and cried.

On one level the painting shows the tendency to whitewash trauma events so as to avoid feelings, and, at the same time, the golden light of awareness bringing some of those feelings into relief.

On another level the painting revels in contrasts of matt and gloss, and the joy of perspectives that different materials can bring. The white areas leading up to the ruched red could also be read as wounded skin with the wrenched open wound painted gold, as in the Japanese Kinsukuroi practice of painting cracks in ceramics gold.

The two red lines also represent the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ aspects of my father; I needed to split them out, take on the ‘bad’ as my own and see him as ‘good’ in order to survive. The psychological work done in therapy allows those lines to come together, collapsing my defences and commencing the healing work of seeing clearly and feeling.

Here are photos of the process:

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