2005 was the worst year of Anita Morris’s life. In a space of months she was locked in her own house by her own parents, fell down some stairs and has glandular fever (mono). This was the catalyst for her moving out once she recovered from the glandular. Falling down the stairs led to ligament damage which her GP missed, it was months before she got a second opinion and correct treatment, this caused further health problems.
2005 was second year of Anita’s Bachelor of Arts. After moving out her university years were good to her. She got treatment for the depression that had plagued her since age 15 and the generalised anxiety disorder that she had had all her life. She finally had enough space to develop her own sense of identity. She studied her BA until 2008. Completing her BA was a triumph. It took her years to learn to read as a child because of learning disabilities.
Growing up Mum had wanted Anita to be just like her. Dad had wanted her to keep the peace with mum, by giving up her agency because she had fought regularly with mum since age 12. Once Anita discovered she was bisexual, her parents no sex before marriage ceased to make sense. She couldn’t marry a girl. Marriage equality still hasn’t come to Australia. Coming out was the beginning of a more honest self-identity.
The Anglican church is very important to her immediate family. Anita left the church within six months of leaving home. It was damaging her mental health. By 2007 she was a Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) Neo-pagan. It started with her seeing an improbable number of cats every time she left the house. It didn’t stop until she acknowledged Bast in her life. Other Netjeru she has permanent relationships with are Hethert-Mut (Hathor-as-mother or Hathor-as-regnant-Queen), Aset goddess of sovereignty, Heru-Wer (Horus the brother of Aset and Wesir rather than their son), and Djehuty (Thoth). Kemetic religion has too many Herus. Becoming a Kemetic Neo-pagan was like fitting a missing puzzle piece of herself. She also likes the idea that good ethics are more important to enter the afterlife than religious belief.
Anita joined the SCA where she first learnt hand embroidery and improved her machine sewing skills by sewing 12th century clothing.
2008 – 2010 Anita drifted. She attempted a graduate diploma of education only to discover on teaching rounds that she should never teach secondary school. It made her anxiety and depression much worse. She spent three months intensively applying for jobs. Then was referred to a disability job service. During this time she also taught herself to knit and crochet. In 2010 in a last ditch attempt to run away from herself she started a diploma in accounting. In May 2010 her then-lover gave her the kick in the ass needed for her to become an artist. ‘I knew you were creative but I didn’t realise you were so far along. Why are you doing accounting when you can be an artist?’ He said. She spent five days in bed from depression while I tried to talk myself into staying on the safe path. On the sixth day She submitted the paperwork to discontinue my accounting course.
Anita had considered becoming an artist before. But her learning disabilities mean she has very low fine motor control. Fine motor control is to do with how easy it is to hand write, draw, and make marks. The art curriculum at secondary school focused on technique over creativity. She got low marks and damaged my confidence. She took some extra curricula art classes but it wasn’t enough to compensate.
Anita’s first artworks were textiles. She discovered that it takes her a year minimum to make a A4 hand embroidered piece. She decided to try additional media because her stitch speed is so slow. She taught myself to draw by carrying a series of A5 sketchbooks with her. She tried coloured pencils then ink then oil pastels before trying acrylic paint. Coloured pencils didn’t give me the vivid colours she was looking for. She took a class in ink drawing in 2011 because she had been influenced by sumi-e. She is not sure why she stopped drawing in ink but it is making a reappearance in her mixed media work. Oil pastel is wonderfully visceral but it never dries completely which means every single work needs to be professionally framed before hanging. This is expensive. She picked up acrylic paints in order to work on canvas without the need for framing. In 2012 she took a class in reverse applique which opened new horizons in textiles.
In 2013 Anita realised that her limitations meant she would never be suited to realism. Since then she has worked on developing a style that is focused on symbolic and abstract art. 2013 and 2014 were productive years for her. 2015 did not feel as productive. She spent more time treating my health than doing art. However all the work she did on her health during the year had the incredible result that she in less pain consistently for the first time in years. She also completed two large scale artworks.