ABOVE: Artist Rebecca Tapscott is entering her self portrait in the Doyle Art Prize.
Kyogle artist Rebecca Tapscott chose to paint a self-portrait at a low point in her life.
She was going through radiation treatment to eliminate cancer that had returned to her body from her 2017 breast cancer.
Her portrait doesn’t shy away from that harrowing experience.
Today, Monday, June 12, Rebecca and her daughter are travelling to the Gold Coast to enter the Where there is life, there is hope portrait into the Doyle Art Prize.
It was raw, painting herself.
“I was so F-ck, why me?” Rebecca said.
The radiation therapy she needed after the operation was gruelling and she was “zonked”.
As a precaution her ovaries and fallopian tubes were removed. This put her straight into menopause.
Rebecca is 47.
“I didn’t want to be around people,” she said.
She did seek refuge in the wild, a place that has always informed her art.
The self-portrait shows the familiar birds Rebecca sees and paints including an azure kingfisher.
During her recovery at her Lynchs Creek property, Rebecca saw lots of yellow flowers. They weren’t flowers though – they moved and she realised they were butterflies. They rest on her body in the portrait. There is a snake coiling around her back and a wallaby staring straight into the eyes of the viewer.
Animals feature in Rebecca’s work, and as a teacher and environmentalist, it is important to her.
“I’m concerned about the loss of species,” she said.
It was natural those species informed her portrait.
Her painting was spurred by the question – “What am I missing? What gives me joy in the world?”
Dealing with the threat of cancer has made her more aware of the world around her.
“Facing death has made me appreciate daily life,” she said.
The self-portrait bears the scar from her 2017 breast operation. She could have hidden it, but the painting bares all and is unflinching in its portrayal of her body.
“The scar is so much a part of me,” Rebecca said.
“It affects how I look at life.”
The yellow in her portrait represents sickness. Rebecca looks again at the portrait in her Kyogle studio and laughs.
“It could also be sunshine,” she said.
Where there is life, there is hope is for sale for $3500 and if sold, Rebecca will give half the price to a breast cancer research charity.
The Doyle Art Prize is worth $1000 to the winner.
Rebecca sometimes works out of The Occasional Studio on Summerland Way in Kyogle where her artworks are for sale. She also works as a maths teacher at Woodenbong School.
Many of the murals seen on walls and power poles around Kyogle LGA were painted by Rebecca in collaboration with other artists and schoolchildren. Read the story below.