PAINTER + ART THERAPIST: LAUREN CASSAR
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Photos by Heather Lighton
Article by Jocelyn Utting
I’m a painter for fabric mainly. When I’m painting, I imagine the artwork sitting on the body, how will it move with the body. It’s a nice vision to have when I’m working. I use my artwork to create garments and my signature sarongs. Also, for the past two years I have been studying a masters of Art Therapy, in 3 months time I’ll be a qualified art therapist. I am specialising in trauma and childhood trauma. I have to use my creative and compassionate self more than ever for this work. Mirador is rather an enjoyable, love of my life hobby now.
What traits about your star sign most resonate with you?
"Give her material obligations and she will fulfil them. Take her into the trees, in nature, and she’ll open like a flower."
I would go so far to say that this could be my tagline on my business card. Being in the bush is really my saving grace. There are so many intricacies to a landscape, and I feel my body soften when I’m in the quiet. My mind is clearer, I get things done out there! I am the annoying person who stops and points to a shadow, or a combinations of trees when on a bush walk, and it takes almost 5 times as long to make the treck.
What traits about your star sign do you like / dislike?
Dislike: Self care, I’m terrible at it, and managing stress. A trait I am envious of is when others really know how to slow down and care for themselves. How does one get up early for yoga rather than do that thing I said yes to five months ago when I really didn’t have time!
Like: Dedication; I admire the dedicated parts of myself, it enables me to run my own business and do my masters at the same time (although, not advised!) as well as be a friend, a lover, an artist. Sensitivity; I have surrendered to my sensitivity. An old male pal used to introduce me to his friends with a preface: “This is my friend Lauren. Just be careful, she is very sensitive!” as a warning. I learned to deny it, “No, I’m not sensitive!” I disliked that part of myself. I judged whenever I was affected by the world around me, by the patriarchy, harshly. My learning has come along way. I couldn’t paint without being sensitive to the surrounding around me. I couldn’t be an art therapist and work with children who have chaotic experiences in their childhood beyond belief. It is an essential part of myself. I wave the white flag for this gentle kindness I have. Loyalty; I am very loyal to my girlfriends. They are my life source, I just love them all so very much.
What inspired you to work with your medium?
I have always been a painter, but I wanted the chance to connect with like minded women and makers around the world. Making a sarong, a hardy garment that is so versatile but also a vast canvas to work with was all just too tempting. Mirador has really been the most rewarding gateway to build a beautiful community around me and I get to collaborate with my best friends and new friends on the regular.
What is the most important part of being a female artist?
In my work as an art therapist, I’m learning what this means to be a female artist even further. I really have to asses who I am going to embody before I walk into the therapeutic space with someone, and what will be most helpful for them. Self as artist, artist as therapist or, as a collaborator, who simply brings a big bag of helpful knowledge, alongside my client, who brings just as much wisdom about life and culture as I do. Being a woman is important here, for me. I make use of both sides of myself: I take on my warrior stance of strength and loyalty, combined with my goddess stance of softness and care.
What is the most exciting aspect of your work?
It doesn’t sound all exciting, but to find time to sit and paint is honestly the most beautiful and privileged reward.
Did you imagine yourself becoming / working on Mirador as a child?
I had an inspiring art teacher, who lived on a big black yacht on Bruny Island (I grew up on the channel in Tasmania). She nurtured this identity for me. And my schoold basically created a graphic design subject for me, I was the only one who was in the class! So I am so thankful to have gone to the smallest, roughest school in Tasmania. And Mirador, well, I didn’t envisage her per say, but I am far too stuck in my own ways (a Virgo trait, if I say so myself) to work for someone else. I really do enjoy my own company, and I lose my creative energy when I design for others, so I’m glad I created Mirador, as it keeps me forever inspired – “always wondering, okay, what’s next?” is hugely invigorating and sustainable.
What is your material process?
Paint in the bush or in my studio – I enjoy tracing shadows. I also make pots on the wheel, so I often include a pot in my artwork – they ground me, the making process and the form. Scan my painting in, send it off to my printers, and voila.
Are you more interested in looking up into the stars or keeping your feet on the ground?
Both. I love mother earth. We come from her and go back to her. She is there, keeps me standing. The sky holds all the wonder and unknown for me, a vast ocean for ideas and pondering.
Do you feel like your star sign’s characteristics control or liberate the way you think about yourself?
I find the idea that we – as Virgo’s – strive to meet perfection as detrimental. Does this define and fuel my endless dissatisfaction? When is one “enough"?
What’s a piece of advice you’d want to give your future self?
Read and educate yourself on feminism as soon as you are able. Your understanding of the human world will be far greater and life will be richer, you will celebrate your womanhood with intense proud and joy. Continue to be rebellious, one conversation, strike, to the next. Oh and stop helping the men close to you organise their emotions, if you keep on doing it for them they will never prioritise it for themselves.