FOR NIKKI, ART IMITATES LIFE ARTIST USES PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
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.