Stirling Times - - Local Focus -

IN­SPIRED by her own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence, Gwelup’s Nikki Coleman has proved the mak­ing of a great artist lies in the abil­ity to con­vey a nar­ra­tive.

Her art­work Pen­the­silea has earned her a place in the 2017 Year 12 Per­spec­tives Art Ex­hi­bi­tion.

Named af­ter a fa­mous Ama­zo­nian queen who led her peo­ple into bat­tle, Pen­the­silea de­picts the so­ci­etal rep­re­sen­ta­tions of fem­i­nin­ity by high­light­ing two groups of women who share sim­i­lar­i­ties de­spite lead­ing very dif­fer­ent lives.

“On one side of the sculp­ture I have stitched an­cient Greek Ama­zo­nian war­riors, a tribe of women who would cut off their breast to bet­ter shoot ar­rows in bat­tle,” she said.

“On the other side there are a se­ries of women bat­tling breast can­cer who have un­der­gone a mas­tec­tomy in or­der to sur­vive the dis­ease. The piece ul­ti­mately shows the ties be­tween the two women and how they both re­main brave and strong war­riors de­spite los­ing a pin­na­cle sym­bol of fem­i­nin­ity.”

The mes­sage in Coleman’s art­work stemmed from a per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

“This idea was in­spired by my mum, who in mid-2016 was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer,” she said.

“One of the big­gest ini­tial strug­gles my mum had to face was whether or not to have a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy.

“I know this was a de­ci­sion she found re­ally hard, es­pe­cially as she re­alised the ef­fect it would have on her fem­i­nin­ity.”

Af­ter two months of re­search­ing, plan­ning, sketch­ing and me­dia test­ing, one of the big­gest chal­lenges for Coleman was learn­ing a new skill and us­ing it to con­vey such a mov­ing mes­sage.

“I’d never ac­tu­ally sewn or em­broi­dered any­thing be­fore, so that was a learn­ing curve,” she said.

Pen­the­silea is made of a plas­tic frame moulded into the shape of a can­cer rib­bon. It is wrapped with yel­low satin and bor­dered by Greek key-style rib­bon.

The 2017 Year 12 Per­spec­tives Art Ex­hi­bi­tion runs un­til July 16 at the Art Gallery of WA.

Other lo­cal grad­u­ates fea­tured are Angelica Gar­land, Ella Moore and Michaela Sav­age (St Mary’s Angli­can Girls’ School), Ari Gille­spie (Bal­catta Se­nior High School), Thomas Yu (Hale School) and Michelle Shean (Church­lands Se­nior High School).

Nikki Coleman, whose work has been picked for the 2017 Year 12 Per­spec­tives Art ex­hi­bi­tion, with mother Gwen. Right: Nikki’s piece, Pen­the­silea.

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