Project title: A bouquet of experience 

Tira DowlingWithin a bouquet of beautifully arranged flowers, each flower is naturally unique; on its own, delightful, together with others- spectacular! Like this arrangement, my life is expressed through the stories I share, colourful attires, pink/black socks, delicacy glazed blue and red ceramic earrings. Just like a bouquet, I embrace a floral arrangement of experience and beauty. I enjoy inviting people to get comfy, settle into an armchair with a warm cup of tea and be curious about art making. In doing, I encourage each person to find their inner sunflower and discover its story.

I have immersed myself in art, people and places and my personal and professional practice provide us with a glimpse of my creative passion inspired by these encounters. I studied visual arts and education, which was the foundation of my therapeutic career. Teaching stimulated a desire to explore the complexities of people and urban/natural environments. My thirst for meaning and inspiration enticed me beyond Australian shores, to a new home with new and wondrous experiences. These small moments of life opened my creative eyes to a sensory world of inspiration, creativity and knowledge. Each country with different history, a different layer captured as new flower in my cherished floral bunch. Throughout this time, I pursued my artistic practice, postcards of my journey expressed in figurative artworks, buildings, natural and abstract forms. I use a multi-disciplinary practice across painting, drawing and sculpture in order to document my colourful interactions across the globe.

Six years were spent as an art teacher stretched from disengaged youth, special needs to mainstream private school settings. This dynamic journey embodies my practice as an art therapist; drawing on sensory, play and education elements to complement my style and approach with clients. My research project offered an opportunity to look within and begin to reweave my existing professions together. Naturally this process cultivated self-doubt and psychological challenges. Through a heuristic inquiry, I sought to progress from self-doubt to self-acceptance by doing what I love most, experiencing life, connecting with others and making art!

My personal artmaking contains the essence of this array of modifications. The artworks symbolise moments within my life, like a flower cut from the field, it is temporarily preserved, captured and thoughtfully arranged amongst others. 

A Woven World
A Woven World  
Wool, thread, plastic pipe and material  
71 x 56cm
This work captures the many thoughts and experiences during the journey of an emerging art therapist. A continuous collection of textures, colours and pattern that symbolise the growth, intuition and creativity within.  


Lifelong Journey
Lifelong Journey
Shoes, acrylic paint, shredded paper, plastic moss, glass jar, socks, water and live avocado plant
28 x 30 x 60cm
Representative of lifelong learning of a therapist that is filled with continuous growth and creative discoveries. The shoe with the green moss represents natural growth and intuition. The shoe with shredded paper symbolises experience and knowledge gained. Both shoes offer life, growth and creativity. They contain a blend of personal and professional identity’s that inspire, move and dance alongside one another on the pathway of life.


Hessian pieces, string, acrylic paint, natural found objects
71 x 176cm
Pathway is a vertical trail that symbolises the two-year master’s program. It contains many elements and connections that represent the learning, personal and professional development of an art therapist.


Tree cross section
Tree cross section  
Pen on paper
59.4 x 42.0 cm
Each year a tree grows a ring within its truck. The ring’s size, shape and colour are determined by the nutrients and atmosphere around it. All areas influence the tree’s growth and maturity. Like a tree, the environment, people, experiences and health impact our development too. We add to our inner rings every year, growing and adapting to the world around us.


Self- doubt  
Ink relief print from tree stump on paper
 42 x 29.7 cm
This artwork used paint on a tree trunk to capture the tree’s growth rings. The stump had been cut by a chainsaw; these marks dominated the print. The mechanical scratches represent the overpowering feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy as an emerging clinician. The rings of growth are invisible and covered from view. Yet, when we appreciate the unique patterns and lines in this print, self-doubt can be understood as a useful tool for self-reflection. We must question ourselves as therapists, always reflecting on the marks we leave on our clients. Thoughts of self-doubt can be better seen as opportunities for growth and development.


Walk with me
Walk with me  
Acrylic paint and pen on paper
29.7 x 42 cm
This piece honours the journey before becoming an art therapist. It celebrates the many pathways that organically and intuitively lead towards this profession. This artwork was inspired by a pair of books worn around the globe by the artist - at work, to the pub, through the park, in the snow, inside the gallery, across pebble stones, up mountains and through puddles. They have seen many places and stepped many steps. The boots represent gratitude towards the jobs, places, people and socks the artist has encountered. A life of wonder and creativity inspired by the road travelled.