Contemporary visual artist Tracy Stirzaker sees herself as an observer and critic of contemporary Australian society and is inspired by her lived experience. Stirzaker uses the repetition of motifs in her artwork to explore the emotional body and self-esteem within the everyday constraints of social politics, cultural values and beliefs.  

Employing painting and textiles techniques including text, hand stitch, soft sculpture, applique and embroidery her artworks analyze and critique her life and thus reflect today’s Australian society.

I have always been creative, and I find the art making process deeply relaxing and healing.  My life’s journey has involved being a carer of family members with mental health issues and my art practice has helped me to cope and given me strength in the everyday.  Particularly when times have been most challenging, I have turned to creating for solace, comfort and joy.

The making or creating is something I need to do, creating brings me comfort and it feels like home.  The act of creating helps me to process the world around me and allows me to express myself.  I am inspired by my lived experience and explore embodied emotional experiences and socio-cultural factors through the repetition of words and motifs.

Caught in the Everyday (2020), mixed media (reclaimed wool and brown paper bag) on paper

As a visual artist, I see myself as an observer and critic of contemporary Australian society. My artwork is personal and honest and intended to be thought provoking.  Recent artworks have been in response to my experiences as a mother and carer – My solo show ‘Recalibrate explored the concept of being overwhelmed in the everyday – the struggles between individuals, mental health and societal constructs.  Some of the artworks were intentionally sensory overloading – people were confronted, it created conversations and raised awareness around mental health. I needed to work through my experiences, so the art making, and the exhibition were both cathartic.

In recent times I have been craving creating and making. I felt I needed to express myself and process what was going on in the world. Creating reconnects me, the art making is an escape and the physical nature of making keeps me present. I use a lot of hand stitch in my art practice and this is quite mediative, I have been including or referencing more natural elements in my practice of late including birds and feathers which I have collected on my walks in the local bush.  My recent artworks delve further into selfcare and self-love – promoting taking time out for the self, something recent times have necessitated as we live and watch the impact of the pandemic and adjust to the impacts on daily living. These concepts of self-love and self-care reflect the need to build strength and resilience in difficult times.

Creating is a form of rejuvenation and this builds my resilience. Most definitely the act of creating aids recovery and my artworks reflect where I am at in response to current events and provide an escape for me and the viewers.

I recall one time crying in my studio whilst painting, I knew that making would help me and I needed to be alone and I needed to create. It was a really stressful time in my life, and I was struggling to hold myself together.  The Making Effect for me was really powerful – the process of planning and actually executing the artwork helped me to work through my experiences, mend and to be kind to myself.  That artwork is deeply personal and reflective – I titled it ‘A Mother’s Torment.

Daily Catch (2020), mixed media on paper

My art practice is inspired by my lived experience, but I discovered that whilst it helps me to express myself and process the world around me, it also connects with others. The motifs in my art practice include the flattened prescription medicine box, which questions societal constructs; the canary (or inner canary) and the text I AM ENOUGH, which relates to self-belief.  I want to continue to raise awareness around mental health, Asperger’s and self-esteem, breaking down stigmas and empowering people to connect and accept.  The artwork ‘My Inner Child, Audrey is inspired by the traditional black and white silhouettes portraits of loved ones. This inner child self-portrait explores self-acceptance in a time where today’s society is challenged by low self-esteem.

Art is such a powerful instrument, its rewarding to be an artist and to have others experience my art.  A passion for nature and a love of textiles inspire me to create unique artworks that delve into my inner world.  I love the tactile nature of fibres and employ painting and textile techniques including text, hand stitch, soft sculpture and applique in my emotive fibre artworks.

Tracy Stirzaker

Sharing my stories with others creates connections and touches the lives of the audience. I think with art we can help people to look at their lives in context, to take a break from their troubles and bring joy or moments of peace.

Being a sensitive person creating art helps me process the world around me. I make art to express myself, to take time out to process the world and to rejuvenate my soul.  I love to go to art exhibitions, artists’ talks and enjoy live theatre.

More of Tracy’s work can be found at

Images supplied by the artist.  Curation by Dr Linden Wilkinson.
Feature Image: ‘My Inner Child Audrey’ (2020), reclaimed fabric collage, silk embroidery thread on paper.