Fresh off the (vacation) boat and ready to sail into George Town Festival 2017 (GTF 2017), Rebecca Duckett has been working around the clock with her artsy and nature-inspired pieces.
She is one of several women artists from Korea, Taiwan, the USA and Malaysia who are participating in the International Women's Arts Festival, which this year is part of GTF's 'Week on Women' programming.
You will be able to feast your eyes on 90 pieces of paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations, and performances during this exhibition.
My exposure to Rebecca the artist was in the early 1980s when I was given my first Owen Rebecca Designs t-shirt from a stall at Central Market, in Kuala Lumpur.
My university friends were soon given a taste of Malaysia's flora, fauna and heritage via her t-shirts, as I privately placed Rebecca in the league of the celebrated Australian designer and artist, Ken Done.
"My paintings are very influenced by flora and fauna, nature and what I see on my travels," says the mother of three, who describes her work as "essentially images of the fantasies in my head and thoughts.
I like to think of them as hopeful and positive. "
Her messages of hope and positivity are self-described as spontaneous and in a style where she simply "just starts."
"Then I paint and work on them until I feel they are complete. I often keep a thought in my head and over a period of time, the urge to create the image becomes totally clear. They are also very much like entries into a diary. Each of them comes from a very clear experience that I have had, whether while I am traveling, or from something I've seen or felt, and what these have made me then think about over a period of time, she notes.
Her painting 'Like moths to a flame' for instance, came as an idea in the Kei Islands as she checked in early morning at Tual airport.
"We had just voyaged from Kalabahi in Alor all across through the line of Forgotten Islands to Tual. All along the way there were butterflies flying across the sea during the day, and at night, moths coming into our lights on our boat, as we sailed through the night. Even when no land was in sight. Their instinct to move or migrate was strong.
"In Tual that early morning, the bright lights of the airport had attracted thousands of moths. There had obviously been a huge hatching of a few species of crysalis all at the same time and the whole airport was littered with dead and still writhing bodies of the most beautiful moths."
"It was during a period when so many refugees were dying in the seas of the Mediterranean and the media was full of these distraught stories. A thought popped into my head that the moths were like the world's beleaguered human migrants and refugees. Pushed by the wretched wars to move, refugees instinctively move 'to the light' hoping for a better future but many of them, like the moths, struggling to push into the light only crash and burn. In the case of the struggling refugees and migrants, they tragically sink and drown. The few who make it 'through the flame' keep giving hope to the rest," Rebecca further says.
Humans, she adds, not only impact on the precious species of the natural world but on the fate of other fellow humans by messing with the natural balance. Wars, light pollution, deforestation, pollution in our seas etc. All earths species are impacted by this. How many will survive?
"The painting is pretty and everyone thinks moths going to a light at night, looks beautiful. But it is as destructive as it is beautiful. We need to try to remember that survival is after all about balance.
'Morphing' is a painting about how species become part of and morph into their natural environment. Man these days seems to be very successful at getting rid of our precious natural environment. I for one, would be very happy to morph back into our beautiful tropical forests, go back to a time when we respected what our environment gave us, and hope that it is still around for my grandchildren to see. It's about hope."
GTF 2017's Space of Time – International Women Arts Forum is from July 27-Aug 28. The exhibition will run concurrently daily from 11am-6pm (at The Whiteaways Arcade) and entrance is free.
(Images courtesy of Rebecca Duckett)