Wendy Sheds Light on Violence

"We can't choose what to remember and what to forget." So wrote the Bulgarian-French philosopher Tzvetan Todorov.

Wendy Catling sometimes struggles to talk about her childhood of family violence. But creating images to tell her story made more sense. Wendy, a photographer, teacher and fine-art print maker, has created a body of work to tell her story and it is showing as a fringe exhibition at this year’s Ballarat International Foto Biennale which began on August 22.

Wendy’s exhibition, Hard Light, features 21 Cyanotype prints on the theme of childhood memories of domestic violence in her family. Cyanotype is a very old photographic printing process that results in beautiful blue-toned images.

At the opening Wendy said the content of the exhibition ‘has been brewing for a very long time’. “These are works which are based on memories of my childhood growing up in Yarrawonga during the 1960s and although I would like to, I cannot forget.”

The month-long exhibition at the Coach House Ale in Lydiard St, Ballarat, will help Wendy achieve another goal – to raise money for McAuley Community Services for Women.

She has produced silk scarves featuring one of her images, Under Current, which symbolises her fear of water and swimming as a child.

Wendy plans to sell silk scarves which she designed to complement the prints in the show. The limited edition silk scarves will sell for $80 and the swing tag on the scarves will feature information about our organisation.

Wendy’s prints are not explicit in their depiction of family violence, but they reveal a childhood of fear of many things including water and the family home where much of the family violence occurred. While the prints tell a story of a child under pressure, they also capture the beauty of some parts of country landscapes.

“As a child I felt a pressure to protect my mother and to keep her safe. So mine was a childhood of much fear – fear of things remembered and fear of imagined things.”

“I hope there is a kind of poignancy, softness, and understanding to them (the work) after all this time. They are about the violence of my father and the endurance of my mother. But they ultimately are mine and represent the creative acts of filtering and imagining which have sustained me and made me a survivor,” she said at the exhibition opening.

“Making these works has been an exercise in communicating the in-communicable while at the same time they are new thoughts which could not be expressed in any other way.”

If you would like to buy a scarf, but cannot get to the exhibition in Ballarat, please contact Wendy at wendy@ettamodern.com.

September 2015