Menopausal Me in a Saucepan Lid, Warts 'n All, with Everything, including the Kitchen Sink

© Susan Dorothea White

Menopausal Me in a Saucepan Lid, Warts 'n All, with Everything, including the Kitchen Sink, 2001
acrylic and collage on panel
60 x 120 cm

My experience of the menopause drove me to create this self-portrait. I also wanted to dispel the negative attitudes associated with this normal natural process. My reflection in the lid captures the dreaded moment when a hot-flush strikes: there is no escaping this symptom.

I am stirring at the stove, the oven and griller are on, and steam rises from the saucepan, all adding to my discomfort. The fan offers some relief. Collages of packages of remedies and foods recommended for the menopause surround me. The timer on the stove is almost at 60, my age when I did the painting. The broken eggshells indicate depleted ova and a grand-daughter represents the continuing cycle of life.

Instead of the conventional mirror view of a self-portrait, I painted myself the way one actually sees oneself. My arms and hands are extended before my line of vision while my face is reflected in the metal lid along with the kitchen sink! My grand-daughter spilling egg-yolk from a teaspoon mimics the movement of my arms reaching into the composition holding a large spoon. The reflections from metal surfaces are topsy-turvy: the concavity of the spoon turns me upside down!!

I combine different types of perspective with actual size to create a non-photographic realism (the saucepan lid, my arms and hands, and the packages are their actual sizes). Rather than the usual portrait format, I chose a landscape format based on two squares where the dimensions make a satisfying ratio. The knob of the saucepan lid lies at the centre of the painting horizontally and at the golden section vertically.

- Susan Dorothea White

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