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Opening door on domestic violence

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Women at Catherine House are helping to open the door and create awareness about domestic violence in the lead up to White Ribbon Day on November 25.

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Entitled ‘Behind Closed Doors’, the artworks comprise three full-size doors that each depict one of the ‘stages’ relating to the domestic violence cycle.

Patricia and Masomeh, together with Catherine House art tutor Lou Gannon, came up with the designs for each door and worked on the artworks for more than a month.

As Lou explained, the first door portrays a woman entering a relationship when everything is “new, happy and rosy”. Door two then shows where it all goes “horribly wrong”.

“She is stuck and there is no door for her,” she said. “It shows a woman who is submissive and the brokenness of her life.”

The colours on this door are dark and images used reinforce that domestic violence covers all races, ages and socio economic spheres.

In the third and final door there is hope. The woman is choosing to reclaim her life by leaving.

“She’s not completely happy because it is quite scary going out by yourself, but there is a bit of a smile,” Patricia said.

All doors feature mixed media with fabric used throughout which, according to Masomeh, makes them seem “more real, more tangible and something everyone can relate to”.

Lou said a feature of the doors was that they were all covered in newspaper prior to any painting taking place.

“That was to demonstrate that not all stories of domestic violence actually get into the news – and when they do, they very quickly slip into the background.”

For Patricia, participating in the art classes at Catherine House and this project in particular have been a “cathartic experience” in her healing process.

“I don’t know where I would have been if I hadn’t gone to Catherine House. Their support is everywhere. People think that when you decide to leave, everything is going to be all right – but it’s a long process.

“I didn’t know anything about art before, but it has helped to get my mind off what I lost through the process, things important to my wellbeing and to focus on something else. It’s rebalanced my brain in a way.

“I feel art is very healing for some people.”

Patricia hopes the doors will help to generate community awareness about domestic violence…that it happens in every suburb, it is frightening and debilitating.

“It’s not always physical abuse, it can be psychological. A lot of it’s about someone having control over the woman’s financial and emotional life, and the isolation she feels… and it’s generally behind closed doors.”

The Behind Closed Doors art installation is open to the public until November 26, at the Burnside Civic Centre, 401 Greenhill Road, Tusmore.

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