Drey Willows is a Naarm (Melbourne) based visual artist and printmaker. Drey has a professional background as a social worker, working in specialist areas emergency medicine, crisis response, and family violence. As such, Drey has a strong interest in the human experience with life’s inevitable ebbs and flows. Therapeutic frameworks and feminist theory inform and inspire Drey’s creative work as she explores the contrasts and connections in life, the darkness of painful experiences, coupled with the opportunity for growth.
Drey has an interest in the connectivity between an individual and their social network and how this impacts their capacity for resilience. As well as the relationship between expression and movement, the passing of time, and the intersection between humans and the natural world. Drey’s work is predominately print-informed, with a focus on experimental techniques and the incorporation of unconventional materials and found objects. Drey endeavours to explore the world through deep reflection and meaning-making as she oscillates between rose and jade-tinted lenses.
CONNECT WITH DREY:
Something Borrowed, Something Blue (2019)
This series explores the hidden nature of domestic and family violence and how surface appearances can be deceiving. The artist uses her personal experience of her first relationship at age sixteen, characterised by domestic violence and significant coercive control. After escaping this relationship at age twenty, many of Drey’s personal belongings were either left behind or destroyed. The only photographs she had remaining of this time in her life were of her and the man who had abused her. The artist tore each photograph in half, only keeping the image of herself, tossing the images of her ex-partner away in a cathartic act of rebellion. These original photographs of the artist’s sixteen-year-old self were layered with hand drawn self-portraits of her adult self. The silent subject directly gazes at the viewer, urging them to look closer, to see layered complexities. Nostalgia is a complex emotion, it is sentimental but not necessarily joyful, it is a longing for a different time and place. These works represent a longing for a time before this relationship. For a time of innocence, of freedom, before maturing beyond one’s years. They also represent an ambiguous kind of grief for teenage years that feel cheated, for they were not as they should have been and never will be. The artist held onto these torn photographs to hold onto her sixteen-year-old self, who endured these years of control and abuse. The young person who became the adult she is today, who survived to live a life that is free- spirited and who stands in solidarity with other victim-survivors of abuse.
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