Some personal information from the artist relating to her art

Life Lost & Found

I dedicate this work to my dear husband who bravely fought cancer. Like most people in his situation, when first diagnosed his immediate reaction was to attempt to sort out his affairs. The filing cabinet was where he found a potpourri of, certificates and papers, brochures and photographs; an array of memories happy and sad that helped him look back over his life recalling his achievements and pleasures of life.

Life Lost & FoundLife - Lost and Found - Oil and mixed media, 70cm x 120cm, $990


When I think of lives touched by cancer I think of windows. A window reminds me of the fragility of life. It needs the support of a strong frame as we need the framework physically of a strong, healthy body and also the support of friends and family. This framework is even more important when bodies and lives are weakened by cancer.

A window gives us a view of life and the world around us. A window is a blessing for those confined to their homes or hospitals to be able to enjoy the sunshine and flowers and trees. But the view through a window may be misted and cloudy as with life when we cannot see or understand why and what the suffering is for.

'Windows' by Gillian Govan

Not only can we look out through a window but we can see in through a window into a home filled with love, comfort and cheer or suffering and despondency. A window also symbolises the ability to see into people’s hearts so we can help and understand their needs. We can also see when and how to give solace.

In a window we can also see the reflection of our lives and ourselves. We can think about how we manage in times of distress or we can reflect a light to give us and others warmth and hope. The reflection can be clouded and unclear but sometimes we can wipe away the mist and look out to the future. Often we want to cover the window so we cannot see what lies ahead; we pull down the blinds and become blind.

A window pane can be cracked or shattered, as can lives touched by pain of cancer. Sometimes the glass can be replaced and the window can be as strong and good as new, at other times the window cannot hold together and so needs even more support from family friends and carers.

But we need a window to give us a clear view that can enable us to look out to the future with hope. Hope that research will find means for early diagnosis, prevention, effective treatments and cures for cancer.

My Journey through Cancer with Art

As a nurse I have had many experiences relating to cancer while caring for the sick, the suffering, the dying, the recovering and the cured. I have counselled, sympathised and supported their friends and families. But none of these experiences had the impact on me, as did the death of my father of cancer in 1992. He was in England and I was unable to reach him in time to even say goodbye. Following his death I entered my first work in the Daffodil Awards relating to the effects of his death. The painting “There, Back and Beyond” expressed my journey through guilt, sadness, loss, happiness and relief and coming to terms with his death.

Through the years I also have seen friends and family undergo treatment for cancer and I was inspired to make another work a collage of photographs stressing the devastating effects that treatment can have. I have very long straight hair and was prompted to make this work as I admire the courage of the many cancer sufferers who have lost their hair as a result of their treatment. “Neither Hair or There”.

The Puzzle

Last year my third entry called “The Puzzle” was a collage of pieces of jigsaw that didn’t fit together. My confusion at seeing the suffering of people and not understanding why, prompted me to make this work in the hope that one day with research and treatment some pieces of the puzzle will start to fit into place.

Neither Hair or There 

This year my piece is called “Solace In Sky and Sea” because again I have taken a personal journey with cancer. I suffered some dizzy spells and following test and weeks of fear and worry was relieved to receive good news… No tumours. Then a call from my daughter telling me she had a tumour took me through an even worse journey of fear doubt, shock, denial, despair, and eventually utter relief … the tumour was benign. But not so fortunate my friends in England, They are husband and wife and have both been diagnosed with cancer and are separated at present in different hospitals undergoing treatment. The puzzle still exists for me. How can I be so fortunate?

Through these journeys of the unknown I have looked around me and at nature. I watched the clouds like life ever changing, calm and soft and beautiful one minute and angry tumultuous and heavy the next. I have taken solace from the clouds the changes of formations, moods and depths and have painted them as metaphors for the unexpected, the unpredictable and the uncertainty. The shells symbolize something still beautiful, more secure and solid and yet delicate as life itself.

How difficult it could be to travel through these times without a means to outwardly express how I feel. How fortunate I am that I am able to put my emotions into art.

The daffodil day awards has given me that opportunity and hope many others who have travelled this road have found the same consolation.


'Imprint' by Gillian Govan

"My two dear friends died from Cancer within three months of each other after years of courageous battle.

Their lives like footprints in the sand have been washed away. But they both left their print on many lives

Through the sadness of their suffering their wives cared for them and supported them constantly, always looking forward in hope.

They must be admired for all they endured in helping to ease the emotional and physical suffering.

This painting is dedicated to Jill and Alexandra."


Some time ago my Husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer. At the time I was making a sculpture called “Bracing the Elements” which demonstrated human response to life.

Within a week he was having Chemotherapy in the care of a wonderful oncology team. My husband continued work and activities he enjoys and we went to the Northern Territory and Overseas. I made a sculpture called “Embracing” and when I saw the theme I knew I had to enter this work.

'Embracing' (cold bronze, 1 meter high, $3,300)