March 27, 2007

Episode 4: Weaving Scars

Nicky Schonkala is a textile artist. But a work she has created of late, has put a whole new spin on her textile art. When Nicky had a seizure for the first time, at the age of 30 years, a friend recommended she visit a doctor. That visit, became an immediate invitation into hospital, and front row seats in brain surgery.
Nicky was diagnosed with a tumour in the brain, which needed to be removed immediately.

She got her mum to take photos of the scar on her head, just after the surgery, merely wanting a record of the momentous event. But it turned into much more than that.
“After I got the idea to turn it into art, I morphed the photo’s digitally, to show the progression of recovery. It really came about as a culmination of getting access to the right loom, a Jacquard, which really allows you to create works of fine detail, and wanting to make a proposal to the Midsummer Visual Arts Program.”

Now Nicky has a series of 25 images of herself and her scar, during the healing process.
She had no idea how successful it would be. Looking back now, she says, ‘the process of healing was mixed up with the process of identity.. It’s about what you hide, and what you reveal.” After the brain surgery, she felt that by covering up the scar, she was covering up her identity.

Her work was first exhibited at The Platform Gallery in Flinders Lane. She said the colours were important, and very symbolic, even if they were in the background.
“The red represents passion, that’s about me.” When you see the faded red, ‘in the pink’ it is representative of Nicky on medication.

“It was a life changing event. I ended up leaving Melbourne, and now I take more time out for my life. And here in Alice Springs, I don’t have to define myself to one thing. Before the tumour, my life was very hectic, now I nurture myself more. I try to balance things out.”

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