Lisa Tucker has made it her life’s work to help others manage their mental health challenges through art. Shattered by her son’s death in 2012, Lisa turned to Chinese brush painting to process her immense grief and trauma.
“I always expressed myself well through art as a kid, but my childhood was quite fragmented and I didn’t have a lot of support or opportunity to pursue my interest. My mum gave me up to my grandparents when I was three and I became a ward of the state at 11. When I had the opportunity to explore art again aged 26, I really excelled.”
Determined to overcome the trauma associated with years of sexual abuse and abandonment, Lisa moved from her native New Zealand to Australia. She threw herself into therapy and creative endeavours, embracing art and music. Unfortunately, her demons had a way of surfacing.
“After my son’s passing, I had a period where I didn’t paint and went into a self-sabotaging spiral. I became quite ill and by 2014 I weighed 155kg and was close to death. I was self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. In 2016, I had gastric sleeve surgery and took up Chinese brush painting to get myself back on track.”
“This artform is all about mindfulness. You dip your paintbrush in the paint and you breathe in; you put the paint on the canvas and breathe out. You develop a relationship with your breath. We painted blossoms and beautiful things like that. It was gentle and I took to it like a duck to water.”
|"Feather of Truth" by Lisa Tucker on display at the 2022 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.|
Lisa and her friends relished their weekly date with their art teacher. Each walking their own path through mental health difficulties, the sessions became a pillar of hope and healing for the women. One day, Lisa’s teacher approached her with a proposal that would prompt her to develop her learnings and talents more seriously.
“When my teacher said to me, ‘you need to be a teacher’, I decided it was a good idea and started studying an Advanced Diploma in Transpersonal Art Therapy. Combining spirituality and art, the course was exactly what I needed to stay focused, and away from food, drugs and alcohol. I’m proud to say I’ve been clean and sober for many years now.”
In 2018, Lisa established her transpersonal art therapy business, art2cin2u. Transpersonal art therapy allows the participant to travel within themselves in search of healing and strength. Transpersonal literally refers to travelling within by means of meditation, which takes you on a journey into a deep state of relaxation to reach a higher state of consciousness.
“I have been involved in lots of projects I am passionate about since creating my business. In 2018, I ran a 13-week art workshop with Indigenous women who had been displaced, had their children taken from them or been victims of domestic violence. It was called ‘Together Apart’, and it was very powerful.”
Having exhibited with Recovered Futures for the better part of a decade, Lisa was proud to see some of her ‘Together Apart’ participants’ artworks adorning the walls in recent years. Bearing witness to artists’ growth and transformation is something Lisa never tires of.
“Having been through what I have, I feel it’s vital for me to work with marginalised groups in the community. Providing people with tools and offering them a way through with art is something very special. They don’t need to talk to me, they don’t need to tell me anything, they can just express themselves. I’ve witnessed a lot of people who have found freedom through art.”