They, Them, Their
De Gillett Cox
Acrylic on linen
122 x 92 cm
Montville Art Gallery
Sylvia Jones Prize for Women Artists
About the artwork and sitter
Brisbane student of Bio Medical Research (Fertility and Embryology) Cael Kilham introduces their identity — Human — into current discourse on gender diversity. In this painting, Cael also proffers supporting testimony in a many-sexed bouquet of Australian native flowers. These strange and surprising structures, the sexual organs of plants, are indisputably considered beautiful whether unisexual, male, female, entire, imperfect, or otherwise.
A parent through IVF and a trailblazer in the introduction of non-binary language into their university’s communications, Cael intends their career trajectory to include the development of thoughtful support so that non-binary, trans and gender diverse humans in Brisbane may successfully access appropriate reproductive technologies.
About the artist
De Gillett Cox is a QCA and Griffith University Honours College graduate (2012), and Head Tutor (Painting and Drawing) at Arts Tree, since 2013. Consistently awarded in competitions state-wide throughout her 35-year artistic career, De employs unique self-developed techniques to push against the silent, static medium of painting and create textured, translucent, loudly exuberant and motion filled works on canvas.
“The purple, yellow, black, and white colours of the non-binary flag underpin this portrait. I chose the kangaroo paw and native pea flowers depicted for their beauty, their similarity in shape to human sexual organs and their widely varying reproductive functions.”
Behind the scenes
Any portrait commenting on gender inclusivity demands that the participants own their vulnerability and operate in trust. Cael’s quietly accusatory stare as they forcefully thrust their bouquet at the viewer reminds us of our human responsibility to carry some weight in this crucial new conversation; to witness, support, and to accept the truths of “other”.
The purple, yellow, black, and white colours of the non-binary flag underpin this portrait. I chose the kangaroo paw and native pea flowers depicted for their beauty, their similarity in shape to human sexual organs and their widely varying reproductive functions. Woven subtly through the bouquet is the word “human”, the one word to safely encompass all of humanity, whomever they inform us they are.