Tag Archives: arts


Judith Wright’s 2011 exhibition A wake, her first major figurative installation, marks a new development in her long meditation on the loss of her daughter, who died shortly after birth many years ago. Wright says ‘the power of the shadow to conjure absence’ directed her to make A wake. The ancient Greeks associated shadows with the soul, and this is true of Wright’s musicians: their shadows are the soul of their music.

Wright’s reference to shadows as a means of conjuring absence resonates with me as I  have been drawn to taking photos of shadows; maybe this is also related to my work about leaving traces of my life behind – traces can also become shadows.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Torn Tissue

Torn tissue forms the tear in my skin.

I’m interested in the idea of torn tissue; of tearing. I decide to amplify this through another representation. I tear up tissue paper. I enjoy the feeling and the sound of the tissue paper tearing. I then stick the torn tissue paper onto a sheet of white paper. I immerse myself in tearing strips of tissue paper and gluing them onto the paper, gradually building up layers and texture. I’m interested in allowing some layers to emerge. I then create more depth by tearing into the layers.

Tearing, ripping, slashing, shredding
Slitting, my skin, revealing the tissue
And beneath this tissue of lies
my blood, my flesh
the rawness of my pain.

Kay Gravell
May 2012

I have this image of tearing my skin open to reveal the flesh, blood, tissue beneath it. It seems very symbolic for me that my left breast has been removed which has brought my heart closer to the surface. It feels so much more present to me as without the padding of my breast the sound of my heart beat is very loud.

I am reminded of the images of the sacred heart of Jesus that I was exposed to during my catholic upbringing. The image of Jesus with his beating heart revealed through his skin represents his divine love and compassion for all humanity.


 Image by bbburge downloaded from http://www.photobucket.com/images on 10/05/2012



Normative Bodies

This is a movie I presented at the International Conference of the International Association for the study of sexuality, culture and society in Madrid in July 2011.

Plaster casts

I decided to make a plaster cast of my chest before my first operation.  The experience of wetting the plaster bandages and then applying them to my chest was quite meditative and comforting. I smoothed the plaster bandages creating a second hardened skin. Encased in my protective plaster armour I  felt secure, but I was aware that I was creating a plaster memorial of my intact left breast. I made another plaster cast after my mastectomy. This plaster cast accentuated the new concave shape of my left chest wall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nipple Painting

The night before I go into hospital to have my nipple cut off I make a series of paintings. I cover my nipple with paint and then use it like a brush.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nipple Painting

Tomorrow my nipple is being cut off.
The perfect symmetry it provides my breast
will be replaced with a scar.

My nipple, a site of such strong sensation.
In response to emotion, sexual arousal, touch, temperature
it magically changes shape, colour, texture.
A barometer of my inner and outer world.

A constant reminder of my womanhood.
As I move forward
my nipples are the extremity of  my phuysical boundary
like a cat’s whiskers
they are a radar
sensing the atmosphere ahead of me.

How do I celebrate my nipple?
Commemorate it?
Connect with the emotion of its loss?

I have a desire
to somehow retain its character
to allow it to make its mark,
to feel its physicality.

Like a paint brush
I move my paint somothered nipple
across the paper
making a series of abstract marks.

I immerse myself in nipple painting.
My nipples become tender
the abrasive movement across the paper
becomes more painful.

I paint slashes of red.
The pain shooting through my nipple
feels like a knife cut.

Kay Gravell
12th November 2008

Japan Trip

I had a planned trip to Japan and decide to go ahead with this before my surgery. Being in another country allows me to be truly present to every moment of my experience. Although I am immersed in my experience of Japan, my nipple is constantly at the outer edge of my awareness.   I see nipples everywhere! I take photos of nipples in the forest, in the city, in buildings, in the street, in the airplane and in temples.


Incredibly I seem to come across ‘damaged or missing left nipples’ everywhere!

Breast Prints

I decide to do a series of images of my left breast. I smother it with paint and make imprints on the paper. I want to portray a sense of decay and death but it just looks beautiful. Like a joyful dance of breasts.  Full of colour. Each breast imprint is so beautiful with layers of colour. They remind me of a gang of parrots and lorikeets with their bright colours and alert eyes, formed by my nipple. It seems a great way to immortalize my nipple to have it captured in such a joyful, colourful manner.