My deafness has been a bit of a theme in my life recently. Normally it’s just something that’s there, in the background, not particularly interesting to me, not a focus, but part of my identity anyway. Writing Future Girl, in which the main character is Deaf and on a journey to discover her identity as a Deaf person, has forced me to examine very closely what it means to be Deaf, and also to find the words to articulate it.
When I launched my free online Auslan course, I thought a few people might be interested. I was stunned by the response – I now have over 11,000 students online! This has shown me the extent to which people are interested in knowing more about Deafness and learning our language. I’m truly blown away.
It’s made me think, if people are out there listening, what do I want to say? And so I’ve been trying to write about it more, make posts that explain aspects of Deafness that people might not be aware of.
Things are changing in my own life too. I took a deep breath and asked my family if they’d learn to sign, to make life easier for me when I’m with them. They are learning. I’m trying to lipread less, to get rid of the headaches and tinnitus that come with lipreading.
So, I guess it’s not surprising that Deafness and sign language are turning up in my art too. I’ve suddenly got a desire to paint people signing. That’s not easy, since Auslan is such a dynamic language, and the focus is often on the movement – hard to capture in a painting. But I’m pretty happy with how this turned out, a first attempt.
This girl is signing the Auslan (Australian sign language) sign for ‘intuition’. Learning to listen to our intuition is a subtle thing, not always catered for as our focus is so often on meeting our obligations and trying to fit in with the world. This painting is a sweet reminder to take a moment to hear a whisper from within. So no, this painting is not ABOUT deafness, as such, but there it is, my language, captured in a painting.
If you’d like this, it’s here in my shop.