Skip to content Skip to footer

Emerging Artist: To Have and To Hold by Ashlee Becks

Winner Emerging Artist

To Have and To Hold

Ashlee Becks

A portrait of
Ashlee Becks
Oil on canvas


90 x 120 cm

The artist represents themselves
Sylvia Jones Prize for Women Artists
About the artwork

“To Have and To Hold” aims to promote the importance of self-care, meaning: active attempts at acceptance and appreciation of oneself. The inclusion of two selves coming together, acting as each others maternal supports, is a reparative reference to Sigmund Freud’s ego split between the self and the other. Ashlee Becks says that “the work is foremostly contextualised within a personal framework, having suffered the effects of poor mental health and a deprivation of care.” Beck’s work lays claim to women’s self-care as an essential, yet often overlooked, component of welfare and mental health.

About the sitter

This piece is a self portrait.

About the artist

Ashlee Becks completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2019 and is currently undergoing her Honours in Fine Art at Queensland College of Art. 

“Through the painted self-portrait - including several works where I am embracing myself - I reinforce a metaphor of physical healing.”

Behind the scenes

My work investigates how self-portrait painting can be used as a vehicle to express and heal from childhood trauma. I consider myself primarily a self-portrait painter with a keen interest in impasto and palette knife. Mark making, explicit in all my work, allows the viewer to distinguish an indexical sensibility – that being, the artist behind the mark. 

This materiality is important as it reminds the viewers that a human has devoted excesses of time and care to it. It acts as a metaphor for physical healing – tender and massaged paint application promotes personal healing and, I hope, will encourage others to do the same. 

Similarly, I have created works that are symbolic in their representation. Through the painted self-portrait – including several works where I am embracing myself – I reinforce a metaphor of physical healing. Repeated self-images and motifs such as flowers are an important way to communicate a desire to help myself heal from childhood trauma. Through painting, I reflect on my own personal experiences and explore the role of art in a process of healing.