A Visual Diary

by Catharine Gellings

A look at myself.
I looked at other women.
I drew them, and I came out. Not me of course.
Different faces expressed my heart and my cries and tears.
A few tries more and I became brave enough to draw my own face.
It didn’t seem my own.
I was asking a question of identity all along.
Could I still draw?
Was I smug to take on the label of Artist?
Did I have the ability after all this time of not producing art?
Could I do that for myself when no one else was affirming me to be like that?
I was kept away from creation—and I fell apart inside.
The very nature of woman is to be the one that enwombs new life.
Giving it that sacred and safe space to stretch and expand.
I’ve never had children myself.
Would they say I was less of a woman?
While I have cared for the hearts of so many little ones,
and allowed spaces in myself for the resurgence of infant ideals.
These grew and became works of art.
Reared and fostered by my own hands.
But these were not my literal children.
In the patriarchy’s view, was I only wasting myself?
They are just drawings men kept saying to me.
They are my life, I kept saying to myself.

Considering Liberation, image by Catharine Gellings

Considering Liberation

Women push the boundaries of written work forward.

Sophrosyne - Image by Catharine Gellings


This piece touches on the idea of rebuilding one’s life. The woman restructures the building behind her with the power of her mind.

Sophrosyne expresses being wise in the way of knowing yourself; allowing yourself the space you need to exist; allowing a faithfulness to your own nature without feeling shame for doing so; allowing for a progressive movement in one’s own life that could yield results of work that are truly satisfying to the builder/self.

No more acceptance of what others wanted for your own existence. Not that others’ ideas were inherently bad, but that before only knowing the counterfeit self, their ideas allowed the self to be trampled.

Now I didn’t need to be the embodiment of what others said I should be. Now being the Sophrosyne my world opened to my real self, and it was that self which I could now tangibly make.

Know Your Worth, image by Catharine Gellings

Know Your Worth

As we know, the very act of silencing a voice causes the truths held in it to become established in eternity. (What else is the mind?) To make the voice more resilient, the truth is now embodied in Art.

The words were spoken, and may be forgotten, but the physical paper can live on to be seen by many. When I could not speak, I think the drawing was a verification to myself of my own lived experience. Gas lighting would not extinguish that experience from my existence.

When our pasts are stomped out (silenced) by others, it seems our psyche can only seek to validate or save the history. What a sad twist of fate for someone who would wish to forget! Life is sometimes too hard.

Catharine Gellings
Catharine is currently an English teacher at Samsung in South Korea, working to again awaken her career in the arts. Please consider supporting her through her Patreon page. Her art will be shown/sold at the Art Vancouver 2019: Uniting Nations Through Art exhibition.