Mother’s pain turns to inspiration in ‘year from hell’

 

 

It has been the year from hell for acclaimed Brisbane artist Pat Hoffie and her entry in this year's Brisbane Portrait Prize is emblematic of that.

Her daughter, Visaya, 23, lost both legs in an horrific accident in New York in January after tripping onto subway tracks and being run over by a train. Hoffie raced to New York to be by her side.

The pair got home with assistance of US Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos and former prime minister Kevin Rudd flying home, accompanied by a nurse, via Chicago and Doha. Both tested negative to COVID-19 before leaving New York but Visaya was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital for treatment and then tested positive while Pat Hoffie was sent to hotel quarantine.

Pat Hoffie's Brisbane Portrait Prize entry, PPE, which was announced as a finalist yesterday, is a self portrait of her in personal protective equipment when she was finally permitted to visit her daughter in hospital in Brisbane. The pair had been separated for weeks.

Artist Pat Hoffie in her Brisbane studio
Artist Pat Hoffie in her Brisbane studio

For mother and daughter it has been a hell of a year but Hoffie, a Professor Emeritus at Griffith University who was awarded an AM

in 2018, is not dwelling on that.

"Actually the whole planet has had a hell of a year," she says. "But every day is a good day, that's the way I look at it. The rest is just data."

Pat Hoffie's former partner, renowned Filipino artist Santiago Bose, died in 2002 when Visaya was just six years old so the bond between mother and daughter is strong. Having "one precious child" and then nearly losing her, twice, has been hard for Hoffie but she says art and writing has helped her and it has also helped Visaya who is a talented artist in her own right. Despite her predicament Visaya is continuing her art with an exhibition in the offing and a line of artistic products in the pipeline including hand crafted bags she makes with her best friend Wayan Preston.

 

Visaya Hoffie in hospital after the New York subway accident. Picture: Instagram
Visaya Hoffie in hospital after the New York subway accident. Picture: Instagram

 

PPE by Pat Hoffie.
PPE by Pat Hoffie.

 

"She is already getting orders for the bags," Hoffie says, "She uses responsibly sourced kangaroo leather. The brand name is lizandbetty, Elizabeth is my middle name and hers." So what does Visaya think of her mothers's searing self portrait? After all she is very much part of the story behind the mixed media work on paper.

"She's involved in her own art," Pat Hoffie says. "She's not that interested in what I'm doing. She has enough on her mind."

 

Visaya Hoffie and friend Wayan Preston are creating a new line of bags. Picture: Instagram
Visaya Hoffie and friend Wayan Preston are creating a new line of bags. Picture: Instagram

 

Hoffie is up against 70 other artists in the Brisbane Portrait Prize. She was a finalist last year too with a provocative work entitled Manspreading. Hoffie's painting for this year's prize is also eligible for the Courier-Mail People's Choice Award.

More info at: brisbaneportraitprize.org

Originally published as Mother's pain turns to inspiration in 'year from hell'



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