Recipient of the Troppo Print Studio Graduate Award.


RHYTHMIC DISTURBANCE is a creative project that explores the lived experience of traumatic grief under intense media scrutiny and public opinion. The project uses experimental print-informed techniques to reflect how the media interrupted my personal experience of the highly publicised death of a family member. Two high-profile court cases followed, and I often found myself unable to avoid being exposed to insensitive and distressing details of the cases as they cropped up repeatedly and unexpectedly. Using self-portraiture in the style of courtroom drawings and the mugshot, I place myself in the position of the criminal on trial—a representation of the intrusive and exposing nature of my experience. The suite of intaglio prints was created using traditional etching techniques and then interfered with using violent, experimental means, such as by force or abrasion. These violent interferences represent intrusions beyond my control and my sense of disempowerment at the relentless cycle of the media. This project explores the role of art in processing grief and trauma and how it can bring an empathetic understanding of the universal experience of profound loss. By drawing creative energy from my lived experience, I strive to engage in an authentic relationship with loss, death, and the horrors associated with life, and do so with an open invitation to the viewer to find resonance.

Drey Willows, Combust, 2022, photographic etching with interference on cotton rag paper.


Application of a soft ground to a copper plate, 2022. Image credit: Phuong Nguyen Le.


Inking up a copper plate etching for printing, 2022. Image credit: Phuong Nguyen Le.


Drey Willows in the Print Studio, 2022. Image credit: Phuong Nguyen Le.

With over a decade of experience working as a crisis response social worker, Drey’s background influences and informs her creative practice. Print-informed techniques and materiality are used to explore the intersection between Drey’s lived experience of traumatic grief and the manifestation of profound loss in the body and subconscious.


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Drey Willows