MY MOTHER, MY MUSE
As an only child, I was brought up by a single parent. My mother, Anne, took the role of guardian, friend, companion, teacher and most importantly for me, role model. Anne overcame all obstacles - poverty, illness, unhappiness - and taught me that every moment counted.
Much of my work utilises the stories my mother has relayed, both orally and in her writing. The words have been sewn into garments replicating her original 19040s jacket, gloves and hats and then etched onto zinc plates or stamped into wafer boards.
Since arriving in Sydney in 1984 Thea has been captivated and inspired by the variations in the bark of trees. Some can be stripped bare and standing naked amongst the greenery; others have layers of history being peeled away, offering their complex stories.
Looking back at one’s past unleashes wonderful memories - of a world full of innocence, joy and beloved family.
These majestic limestone rock formations, remnants of thousands of years of continuous erosion, are located along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria.
Crashing waves formed cliffs, then arches and now only eight disparate shapes rise out of the Southern Ocean.
Bountiful abundance of billabongs, rivers and marshes
Sustaining indigenous communities
Plants and food nourished by the fertile soil
Swans, pelicans, cranes and curlews cradled in its bosom
A place where crows met
Does one now lament the loss
Grieve the past
Or embrace what beauty now beholds
The flowing Murrumbidgee
The gentle trees warming its banks
The new crows
The new meeting place
MY TWO LIVES
The artworks in My Two Lives cover Lotte's time at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and Theresienstadt during World War II and her years in New Zealand and Australia.
A FLEETING BREEZE
"Grass withers, flowers fade
Indeed, man is but grass"
How fleeting human presence is in the journey of history. Thea's work represents a defiant declaration of the triumph of human spirit and spirituality of the land.
There are patterns everywhere in nature and numbers, waiting to be recognised and deciphered. Gematria, the Jewish tradition built upon the belief that numbers are a path to understanding the pattern, plays an integral part in informing her practice.
In 2012 Thea spent a week in Fowlers Gap, a research station owned by the University of NSW, located 1200 kilometres west of Sydney. That began a discovery of a vast, unspoilt arid land bursting in intense colours - the earth colours in the dry, cracked creek beds and the pinks flashing across the sky in magnificent sunsets.
Inspired by Dante's Inferno (Canto 32), where the despicable inhabitants of Hell are submerged in a lake of frozen ice. Dealing with the Holocaust, the work represents a defiant declaration of the victory of the human spirit. Under the most difficult conditions Lotte Weiss' spiritual strength, although focused primarily on survival, was impossible to extinguish.
FIRE AND ICE
IDENTITY MEMORY AND MANIPULATION
Memories reside in all the places Thea has lived - born in Denver, Colorado and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, schooled in New York and then long periods in Buenos Aires, London, Wellington and Israel, eventually settling in Sydney in 1984. She has defined herself according to where she lived and what she did at that stage of her life. Thea's identity reflects the many paths followed with the opportunities afforded to her.
Thea has chosen the square formatted plate to represent old photographs.
The toddler prints, which were done with caustic soda on linoleum, use her skin tone as the base colour. New York in the late 60s, while at student at Parsons School of Design, captures a moment that brings back the memory of the shoot. Thea strove for strong contrasting tones to develop the atmosphere, creating a sense of mystery and contemplation.
MYSTERY OF EMOTION
The subject is Thea's mother - the pain and hardship in her life and the obstacles she overcame to break the pattern of poverty. Education and reading have always been her mother's way of avoiding lonliness. Through the artwork, Thea utilises the text of her stories, by stencilling and sewing on fabric and then transferring the templates to etching plates, to reflect the guilt and regrets that resulted in the decisions she made in her life.
2065 - A HEALED MEMORY
Celebrating the life of Lotte Weiss, the only survivor of a close-knit family of eight Jews who were decimated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Lotte has self-published a book entitled 'My Two Lives' which covers her life as a child in pre-War Czechoslovakia, her horrific experiences of 2 1/2 years in Auschwitz and her "second life" - that of rebuilding her hope through a vibrant family in a new country, far from the terror of Europe, in New Zealand.
Much of Thea's work utilises words and numbers, which originates in Lotte's book. The letters are stamped onto canvas, etching plates or wooden boards to replicate the tattooing of the registration number, 2065, onto Lotte's left arm. Moving from etching to oils to 3-dimensional pieces the work reflects the horrors Lotte endured and serve as a testament to her courage.