Human Rights Office

Human Rights Office
Human Rights Office

Tile D2

"Underwater Woman"

Debra Hetherington Day, Kingston-based artist


Artist's Biography

Since the 1980's, Debra Hetherington Day (aka Lady BatChic) has exhibited her works across Ontario in solo and group shows: Windsor, Chatham, Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa. At this time, she was involved with enjoying the experience of organizing and hanging contemporary exhibitions with other artists. Media: mixed media, calligraphy, photography, soft sculptures, and fiber arts, mail-art, illustrative work (pen and ink, watercolors, intaglio prints), original book works and acrylic painting. As Batchic, Debra's mail-art work has found exhibition, interaction, and communal exchange globally: in Canada, the US, Brazil, UK, Holland, Italy, China and Germany. Debra is currently participating with Bob Milner's Tweetart Event, with her dadaesque works on paper shown at his PEEP! Gallery, Westgate Studio Exhibition Space, Wakefield UK.

Artist's Statement

In this art piece I have borrowed into the First Nation's myth of Spider Woman as Weaver to create the World - the Spider Woman is able to magically spin cloth, intricately weaving beautiful patterns (our lives) into it.

"Grandmother, your gentle hands knit for me a sacred place in liquid blue where I can curl up between knit stitches and purls and pearls - I am the woman underwater: feeling safe and strong and free. " 

Our Grandmother creates an underwater environment through knitting, as she layers it over the blue of my chosen mosaic square. In her hands are more than two knitting needles, creating a boxed effect with her knitting project, echoing the outer edges of the mosaic canvas square, itself. Also, it is known that prayer shawls, or shawls in which the crafter meditates or says prayers of their faith while knitting with the intent comforting the recipient, are donated to those experiencing loss of stress. I am certain that Grandmother is knitting a prayer of healing for our Underwater Woman.

Behind her, there is an energetoc cps,oc [attern ;le stars., and not unlike the charged microsom = swirls= seemingly chaotic in our eyes, but a sacred place for change to occur. Her blue knitting also echoes these patterns with crystals and seashells attached to her work - emphasizing the tactile part of the underwater world.

"Underwater" to me, expresses a visual interpretation of going deep into the subconscious, a transcendental state of mind. I have always felt a closeness to fish, and began painting underwater environs at age 1- as aquarium backdrops for my classrooms - a creative task that I continued, yearly, lovingly, until I finished secondary school. The idea of partnering with the fluidity of fish grew with me, many times over, even as a professional artist - until we find this subject identified, once more, with holistic healing and growth, in this mosaic canvas square.

The Woman Underwater seems to be part mermaid as she has become adaptable to the flexibility allowed through the underwater dream - a process to mend the fractured Self, and find her strength to begin anew. Her hair blends in with the underwater vegetation, underwater plant leaves scatter on her right side, like dappled sunlight and there is a rosy fish on the top of  her head, in her hair - connecting with the symbolic heart and pearl she wears around her neck. "Relax, and open the heart to healing" Through this gate, we can identify with a woman's strength, resilience, spontaneity, creativity and diversity in the wake of gender-based harassment and violence.

Around the outside of this mosaic canvas square is a border, two hues of blue and wavy lines of thickly painted white, glazed with light blue. This is to reinforce the idea of a symbolic "waves of change" and to give strength of containment, a feeling of safety within the borders of construct. four pearls anchor the four corners of this painting, while the fifth pearl, centred in our Underwater Woman's bronze heart, ties all of these pearls together. The soft blue of the waves let our eyes connect back to Grandmother's blue-white hands knitting "creation" or in this case, "re-creation" for a spirited, spontaneous Woman Underwater.

This, being a mixed media piece, was painted with acrylics, with an application of light modelling paste - gel medium, knitting sample and wool, buttons, beads and sea-shells, blue watercolour paint applied to acid free calligraphy paper, calligraphy ink and pen, mounting squares, Weldbond adhesive white glue and gloss glazing medium.