Kate Disher-Quill on Frederic Leighton

Part of a series of new perspectives on portraiture commissioned for Archie Plus

Frederic Leighton

Winding the skein

c1878
oil on canvas
100.3 x 161.3cm
Purchased 1974

As I write this, it is 17 September 2020. Sitting in my home office in Melbourne, I notice it is 6 months since we first went into lockdown due to the pandemic. I look at this image and I am reminded of two things I love and miss dearly – my mother and the ocean.

As someone who has always felt a strong connection with the ocean, I have found this one of the most challenging aspects of being in lockdown. Looking at this vista encapsulates what it means to find peace in nature and I am reminded of how therapeutic the coastal landscape can be.

And these two women who appear almost entranced, connected by movement and a thread – who are they? My heart tells me that they are mother and daughter. I miss my own mother and the feeling of simply being in each other’s presence. It is a bond that transcends words. A language that is known with our bodies.

The slow and silent process they are immersed in is one that feels familiar. My family and I have had countless days at home, quiet moments, inner thoughts as we share our activities in silence. Time becomes irrelevant. And these moments become meditative.

Kate Disher-Quill is a Melbourne-based artist and photographer who is driven by stories that matter

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