NIGHTSHADE

WENDY CATLING

THE EXHIBITION WILL RESUME ONCE THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN IS LIFTED

Weeds are any plants growing out of their natural range which compete with other plants for growing space, sunlight, soil moisture and nutrients. 'Nightshade' conflates weeds and domestic abuse, drawing parallels between parasitic, aggressive, dominating behaviours of domestic abusers and the invasive and destructive natures of weeds. The nightshade becomes a metaphor for the duality of my father’s attractiveness and charm in public, and his violence and coercive control in private.

The project centres around my mother’s life. Growing crops on her parents’ farm, flowers, fruit and vegetables in her many gardens and caring for Australian bushland have been her life’s passion. Since the 1990s she has volunteered in community groups, propagating native plants and continuing her battle against invasive weeds in outer suburban nature reserves. During her twenty-year tumultuous relationship with my father she, or they, moved-house numerous times. The first move was to escape his stalking, the second move was when he kidnapped her and made her pregnant, subsequent moves were due to his unstable work history. In every street where she lived she tended a garden.

Digital photography, installation, video and web content have been employed to reach into the abiding effects of trauma caused by domestic abuse. I have excavated small details and quietly significant moments of personal history hidden in family albums and documents. Indelible blue shadows of the past emerge; concealing and revealing the ambiguities in human relationships and the photographic record. The past is bathed in the blue that recedes from light.

https://nightshadeproject.cargo.site/