Red and Me: Shirley Yoru Tsao and Melanie Dare

This is part of the documentation of a cultural exchange between Shirley Yoru Tsao and Melanie Dare. Tsao and Dare are two of the forty-four participants which make up a cultural exchange between member of the Taiwanese community in Perth and Western Australian Artists. Curated by Ashley Yihsin Chang. The image is a digitally manipulated photograph of Tsao by Dare.

Shirley Yoru Tsao / Red and Me / moved to Perth in 1994 / Director of Mi Travel / Single with four teenage children

Growing up in Taiwan, my mother always used to dress me in red. Red traditionally is a symbol of good luck, prosperity and happiness. Dressing me in red was a reflection of my mother’s constant desire for me to succeed and make her proud. The picture of me in the traditional red Chinese Qi Pao (or cheongsam) was taken at my engagement party when I was 17. I came to Perth that same year (1994) after finishing high school in California. I came to be engaged to someone whom I had met through my parents, and had only spent 3 days together prior. I entered the marriage out of obedience to my parents. The red in my dress was a reflection of the success of both families, but also the unseen pain and the helplessness I felt within. It foreshadowed the youth and dreams I sacrificed for my future husband and children for the next 20 years in Perth. Red is also the blood shed by Christ for me to remind me that I am loved and not alone. After overcoming depression, red now represents my love and passion for people and for life. It is the colour of my joy and strength.

Photo taken and Image by Mel Dare / From the Wheatbelt, WA in 1990 / Artist and Educator / Partner

While listening to Shirley discuss her childhood relationship with red I reflected on my own: scraped knees from climbing trees; bruises from playing football with my brother; a ewe hanging in the shearing shed, blood pouring from the slit in her throat; redback spiders in the outside dunny; pink – washed out red – engendering a feeling of weakness. As Shirley and I shared our stories we both revealed strong thick red threads running like veins through our lives. The more we discussed our seemingly vast differences the more the other’s stories felt familiar, echoing our own. When we share our stories with others patterns are revealed and selected areas embellished. Some threads unravel or are unpicked; whole sections are sewn over or started again. When we share our stories with others we are weaving, adding to one another and becoming part of each others larger tapestry. When our weaving first begins we stitch loose threads borrowed from family and culture. Sewn crudely with coarse threads. As we grow it becomes finer and more delicate or entangled. These are the maps by which we navigate our lives. The nets which stop us falling but may also become traps. The filters we look through. The blankets we wrap around us for comfort and warmth.

About Shirley Yoru Tsao: I have chosen red as my “object” for sharing because I feel it is a colour of great cultural significance in Taiwan and tells the story of why I came to Perth and my life since. I was born in Changhwa, Taiwan in 1976 and went to an American boarding school from 1989 to 1994 in Ojai, California, before coming to Perth to get engaged at 17 in 1994. After being a full-time housewife and mother for 10 years, I built and managed a busy Japanese restaurant in Subiaco for 5 years from 2005 to 2010. Since 2011, I have had the privilege to work in the tourism industry of Western Australia, both as an Inbound Tour Operator and a marketing consultant to tourism businesses who are interested in developing business in Greater China and South East Asia. My travel within Western Australia has been instrumental in the remarkable recovery I have embarked upon from depression. Currently I work for myself in the inbound travel business under the name “Mi Travel” and am a keen mind health management advocate. With four beautiful grown up children, I feel that my mission in life is to help and bless people with the love of Christ and the transformation that I have experienced in my own life.

About Mel Dare: Mel was born and raised in the Wheatbelt of Western Australia to an Australian farmer and a mother who at 3 years old fled with her family from the former Czechoslovakia after WWII to Australia as a refugee. The artist’s background made her aware of identity from a young age. Through painting and drawing she investigates how meaning is formed specifically relating to personal narrative. This interest has led her to research subjects as varied but interrelated as sociology, psychology, neurology, biology, time, perspective and physics.

Dare lives and works in Perth, WA. Since graduating with Honours, Bachelor of Arts (Arts) from Curtin University in 1999 she has exhibited 9 solo and 3 duos exhibitions. As well as being selected as a finalist for many group awards such as Joondalup Community Invitation Art Award (2017), Bunbury Biennale (2017), Mid West Art Prize (2017 & 2015), and Bankwest Contemporary Art Prize (2015). She has also been invited to contribute to numerous curated group exhibitions including Stations of the Cross (2017), Scene (2017 & 2016), Steal (2016), Pure Contemplation without Knowledge 7 & 8 (2015 & 2016) and Painting as an Artform (2015).

In addition, her work has been awarded 6 art awards and is included in the Edith Cowan University, City of Joondalup, St John of God, Princess Margaret Hospital and Old Swan Brewery as well as other private and public national and international collections. Since 2008 the artist has been a resident of Gotham Studios. This year she has participated in the annual Silence Awareness Existence residency at Arteles Creative Center, Hämeenkyrö, Finland. Dare has taught art in prisons, Curtin University and Applecross Senior High School’s Gifted & Talented Program. She currently lectures part-time at Central TAFE.

曹佑如 / 紅與我 / 1994 年移居到伯斯 / 擔任米旅遊負責人 / 單親媽媽,育有四位青少年期的小孩


梅兒Ÿ達爾 (Mel Dare) 攝影 / 1990 從西澳小麥帶區移居到伯斯 / 藝術家與教育工作者 / 有穩定關係的伴侶

聽Shirley分享她童年與紅色的關係,也讓我聯想起了自己的小時候:爬樹刮傷的膝蓋、與我兄弟踢足球時的瘀傷、一隻掛在剪茅棚裡的母羊,血液從她喉嚨的切口滲透出來的情景、戶外廁所的紅背蜘蛛、以及粉紅色 – 褪了色的紅 – 產生的一種柔弱的感。當Shirley和我分享著彼此的故事時,我們皆透露彼此對紅色線條的強烈感受,那就像是遍佈在我們生命裡的網絡。當我們討論得越多就越發現,即便我們在表面上似乎有很大的差異,但對彼此的故事卻都有種熟悉感,呼應著自己。當我們與他人分享故事時,不同的模式會被顯示出來,而所選定的範圍也會被修飾過。就像編織一樣,絲線會被打開、或被拆解,有時整個區塊需要被縫合、或是重建。當我們在與他人分享我們的故事時,就像是在編織一樣,彼此相互添加,成為彼此更大織錦的一部分。當我們長大,一切變得更細微、細膩、或是糾纏的,這就像是我們行走過的生命地圖。生命之網,阻止我們墜落,但也可能成為陷阱。我們所透視這個世界的濾網,也像是圍繞著我們到毛毯,給我們撫慰與溫暖。

曹佑如簡介: 我選擇紅色為我分享的主題,因為它不但在台灣的文化中具有重要的意義,也幫助我表達了我之所以搬來珀斯背後的原因及我在珀斯生活的歷程。我於1976年出生在台灣彰化。 1989-1994年間,在美國加州Ojai私立高中住校完成高中學歷,之後於1994年來到西澳伯斯訂婚,當時17歲。有10年的時間在家當全職的媽媽及家庭主婦。 2005-2010 之間,曾在Subiaco區創立及經營一家生意甚好的日本餐廳。 2011年有幸踏入西澳旅遊業,做地接服務及提供有興趣在大中國及東南亞發展的旅遊業者,旅遊推廣的顧問服務。在西澳旅遊對在我走出抑鬱症的奇異歷程中有非常重要影響。現今我致力於經營西澳地接旅遊商務及提倡思緒健康管理。除了有4個乖巧及優秀的成人兒女之外,我希望能透過分享基督的愛及個人生命轉變的經歷來幫助及祝福更多的人,我感覺這是人生的使命。

梅兒Ÿ達爾 (Mel Dare) 簡介: Dare 是在西澳小麥帶區出生長大的,她的父親是一名澳洲農夫,母親則是一位跟著家人一起在二次世界戰後從前捷克斯洛伐克移居來的難民,當時她媽媽年僅三歲。這樣的背景,讓這位藝術家很小就意識到身份認同的議題。透過油畫與繪畫的創作,藝術家去探討意義是如何行成的,特別是有關個人的敘述方式。這方面的興趣帶領她去做各種不同但有相關聯性的主題研究,如:社會學,心理學,神經學,生物學,時間學,空間學及物理學。

Dare在西澳伯斯生活與工作,她自1999年從科廷大學獲得榮譽藝術學士學位,已舉辦過九次個展、三次雙人展,且曾入選多次團體獎項,如:Joondalup社區邀請藝術獎(2017)、Bunbury雙年展(2017)、中西部藝術獎(2015、2017)、以及Bankwest當代藝術獎(2015)。她也曾受邀為多項策展計畫與團體做出許多貢獻,包括: “拜苦路Stations of the Cross” 展 (2017)、“場景Scene” 展(2017 & 2016)、 “竊取Steal” 展 (2016), ”無知的純粹沈思 Pure Contemplation without Knowledge 7 & 8” (2015 & 2016)、及 “繪畫是一種藝術形式 Painting as an Artform” (2015)。

此外,她曾獲得六個藝術獎項,作品在:Edith Cowan大學,Joondalup市,聖約翰 (St John of God)與瑪格麗特公主(Princess Margaret Hospital)醫院、老天鵝啤酒廠(Old Swan Brewery)、以及其他在國內外公私立單位機構等收藏。自2008年以來,她一直是Gotham Studios的駐村藝術家。今年,她還去參加芬蘭Hämeenkyrö的Arteles創意中心之年度 “沈默意識的存在(Silence Awareness Existence)”的駐村活動。 Dare也曾到監獄去教受刑人藝術、科廷大學和Applecross高中的天才資優班教授藝術,她目前在Central TAFE兼職授課。