Kara x Rebekah
How can you find the strength to keep moving through the darkest moments?
This painted expression from mental health advocate Kara and artist Rebekah shares Kara’s journey and personal transformation from hopelessness to healing. Through a combination of portraiture and symbolism, the piece represents Kara finding light through the darkness, and her connection with family, the beach and country.
Kara Farrell (she/her)
My mental health was not so healthy before. I’ve since overcome self-doubt, negative self-talk and suicidal behaviours. Although sometimes I still have self-doubt, I’ve overcome not-so-healthy mental health through a journey of rebuilding and rebirth.
I’ve always kept my story to myself and not a lot of people have heard my story, or they might just know some parts of my story. It was special to have an opportunity to tell Rebekah my whole story and for her to understand and create a safe space for me to share my story.
Rebekah Treacy (she/her)
The overall summary of the expression represents Kara’s personal journey of seeking help to overcome a dark place she found herself in. On the surface the painting speaks for itself, showing on one side a dark colour palette symbolising Kara’s battle with her mental health and on the other half a positive reflection of her journey. The self portraits are in a central position in the painting representing these two sides, surrounded by a circular pattern that symbolises a sitting place. This representation reflects Kara’s family members (mum, dad, siblings and her nan), who are around her and have been a guiding light and strength during dark times. The footprints are a symbol of resilience and how Kara was able to overcome some of her challenges at a time when she thought there was no way out. The beach has a personal meaning to Kara, being a place of letting go and healing. One particular day there were dragonflies which are known to represent change and transformation. They represent her personal transformation.
MY VISIBLE MESSAGE
I hope this will help break down the stigma in the Indigenous community.
In the Kimberleys there’s a very high suicide rate in the community which is one of the reasons I took on this project. I don’t want to see the young Indigenous people die by suicide. There is a lot to live for.
I hope my story impacts young people who are scared to open up about things. I hope having someone else’s story that you can see or listen to will help someone who is struggling with their identity, sexuality, or has ups and downs with their own mental health problems. I want them to realise that they’re not alone. Even though my experience may not be the same as what they’re going through, they’re not alone.
I remember staring at the canvas for a while just thinking “how am I going to do this?”. It’s so personal and I’d never done anything like this before in my creative experience. Obviously as an artist I’ve done commission pieces, but this was more personal. This was Kara sharing something that she went through, so I was really mindful of that throughout the entire process, and of how I was going to reflect her experience.
It was a very slow process of painting, stepping away, thinking about it, looking at it again and then really thinking of where I could place the symbols in a way that would reflect the importance of what she wanted to tell.
I think I’ve opened up a lot to Rebekah. At first, I was a little bit nervous as to how she was going to take what I said because she told me this was one of her first pieces where she was told a story and then had to create an artwork, so this was a different process for her as well. Every time I look at it, I fall in love with it.
Kara Farrell (she/her)
Kara is passionate about youth mental health, personal growth and supporting the development of others around her. In her role as an Australian Youth Advocate for Mental Health, Kara hopes to reduce the stigma around mental health and increase help seeking behaviour among young Aboriginal people. She wants to empower young people in her community, and hopes this can help young people to live life to their full potential. Kara finds spending time with her family and maintaining connection is a great way to maintain her mental health.
Rebekah Treacy (she/her)
Rebekah spent her childhood and youth growing up in the close-knit community of Broome. After completing her primary and secondary education at St Mary’s College, Rebekah moved to Sydney where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of New South Wales. “My style is inspired by family, culture and my deep appreciation for the vast landscapes of the Kimberley region. I lived in Sydney for 6 years and it was during this time that I started painting more landscape scenes as a way to feel connected to home. After recently moving back to the small coastal town, I have continued to explore my artistic style drawing inspiration from the patterns, colours and objects that surround me”.