Black Swan: Shelley artist’s piece confronting anorexia a finalist for Black Swan Prize for Portraiture


Artist Jana Vodesil-Baruffi with her Black Swan nominated portrait of her neighbour Paige. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au   d474962
Artist Jana Vodesil-Baruffi with her Black Swan nominated portrait of her neighbour Paige. Picture: Jon Hewson www.communitypix.com.au d474962

PAIGE wore heavy layers on her small frame and a warm cap shadowed her gaze as she turned to face the confronting portrait of herself.

“Two years ago, I really acknowledged the fact that I have a problem,” the Shelley resident said of the anorexia she was diagnosed with at 14.

MORE: Shelley artist claims Black Swan Prize for Portraiture

In recent months she has confronted her condition head-on, even agreeing to pose unclothed for her neighbour Jana Vodesil-Baruffi who runs Metamorphosis Gallery in Willetton, something she said was harder than talking about her condition.

The resulting entry, entitled “Black Swan”, is among the 40 finalist pieces selected for the Black Swan Prize for Portraiture.

It will be exhibited at the Art Gallery of WA from November 1 to November 27.

Now 31, Paige’s health must be carefully monitored.

She recently lost some teeth – a sign her body is fading after years of inadequate nutrition.

A doctor told her mother in 2015 that Paige, who does not want her surname published, would be lucky if she lived another two years due to the state of her internal organs.

In that two-year period, Paige found a clinical psychologist with whom she has good rapport at Fiona Stanley Hospital and is determined not to give up – mainly for the sake of her family.

She sticks to routines of activity throughout the day, including her art and audio books.

Paige feels fleeting moments of happiness but says she is in a constant battle against the disorder.

“Even when I feel happy at times, soon after the other part of me will get angry,” she told the Canning Times on World Mental Health Day last Tuesday.

“I didn’t ask for this,” she said of the condition. Keep this in – it’s a big part of her message.

“I just felt so undeserving of food or happiness – anything that brought joy,” she said.

Paige, who studied molecular genetics and biotechnology said she had never been able to work and was hospitalised countless times.

The oil painting is the sixth time Vodesil-Baruffi’s has been listed as a finalist and she has once won the People’s Choice award.

“Her sad but strong gaze pierces my heart,” Vodeseil-Baruffi said.

Vodesil-Baruffi expressed the frustration she feels at wanting to change Paige but realises all she could do was offer help.

She felt she could also help make people aware of this complex disorder through her art.

Anyone wanting help should call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 334 673.

MORE: SES gets 52 call outs as wild weather blows over trees

MORE: Cities of Perth and Vincent commit to Australia Day events

MORE: Entwined in the Valley: thousands sample the best of the Swan Valley