“Childless” as a self portrait, is an idea I have had whirling around for a while, also the name of a piece of literature that I commenced (and abandoned) writing last year as subsequent research suggests the title has been used in the exact same context by another Australian author.

I wanted to attempt a dramatic self portrait to capture something beyond my usual reference photo technique to see if I had the skills to conjure up a composition to enter into a self portrait contest I saw on line as I missed the 2022 deadline.

The lawn sale frame was chosen for this particular piece to enhance the drama and to create a contemporary take on historical 17th and 18th century portraiture.

There are many carefully curated references: the empty glass – a symbol of emptiness of not fulfilling the dream of children caused in part by the literal missing contents of the glass itself over the years. The black shadows the symbol of dark thoughts and dysmorphic self image that plagued me for most of my life, the men’s shirt representative of comfort over courage, the open heart surgery scar – a prominent and constant reminder of an historical slow and perpetual metaphorical attempted suicide by my own poor choices (i.e. literally broke my own heart) and the jewellery front and centre symbolic of unrealised promises and commitments – mainly to myself.

I selected the teal colour background intuitively and because I just liked its velvet like appearance against the gold vintage frame but a Google search of the meaning suggests calm, open communication, morality and renewal. I’ll take that.

This past week has reminded me what I really cost myself and the irreparable damage I caused. It also taught me that perfection is a myth and if I were to wait for everything to be perfect before I did anything, then I would achieve nothing. It is with this in mind that I present myself to the world even though I have been struggling for weeks now to find my own likeness. Perhaps I don’t REALLY know who I am yet and therefore cannot see myself but the light coming in from the corner is suggestive of the possibilities and opportunities that await.

Whilst I’ll accept that this piece is far from the portrait I pictured in my head and hoped to produce and in the name of productivity I need to leave her behind, I believe she deserved to be seen. Who knows . . . there may be a metaphor in that too.

It is a confronting exercise to study yourself and then portray yourself in a completely vulnerable state to present to the world but I am learning that not only is that where the work is but the rewards as well. 

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