8 - 12 March 2024

Kate Just

Site 2 - The Old Stone Hall, Church Street

Self Care Actions

Hand knitted yarn, timber, canvas.
55 x 40cm

Artist statement

Self Care Actions consists of a series of twenty brightly coloured, hand-knitted panels bearing texts relating to self-care. This body of work is ongoing and new knitted panels will continue to be produced in knitting circles throughout the weekend of the Beechworth Art Award. The series arises from my lived experience as a queer woman who is an artist/teacher/advocate/feminist activist and parent. In response to accumulated exhaustion and frustration from years of working in artworld and real-world contexts to generate social and political change, I began to formulate texts/actions – to sustain and care for oneself – in difficult times.

Self-care has its roots in radical activism. As a term, it dates to the US based civil rights and women’s rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Activist organizations were upset by the ways America’s healthcare system was failing marginalized communities. In response, they worked to give those communities free or low-cost resources to better take care of themselves. In the late 1960s, the Black Panther Party created the first Peoples’ Free Medical Clinic as an alternative to hospitals and private care practices. The women’s rights movement of the 1970s also provided underserved communities with feminist health centres. Activists preached self-care within communities and practiced it themselves. Writer, feminist, and civil
rights activist Audre Lorde famously stated, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is selfpreservation,
and that is an act of political warfare.”

The knitted Self Care Action panels are all the same size. They are brightly coloured and deploy the same rounded font. These simple design elements underscore the optimism of the project and the clarity of the actions. Actions from the series include: Ask For Help, Stay Present, Switch Off Your Phone, Love Yourself, Make Art, Get Into Nature, Feel Your Feelings, Get Therapy, and Say No. The works are shared on Instagram via @katejustknits using the #katejustselfcareaction hashtag. I share images of each work, pictures of me holding up each panel, and text about each self-care prompt.

Each work is a simple reminder that I consider crucial for my own emotional survival and resilience. It is also an invitation to others to imagine how they might prioritise caring for themselves. These are simple actions that are sometimes hard to do.

Though I initially made the signs to consider how artists and activists can build emotional resilience, personal circumstances in my own life have continued to shape and inform the work. In the two years leading up to the project I foster-adopted a second child (a teenager), navigated pandemic life, gave up alcohol and grieved the loss of my father.

Beyond offering the means for taking care of myself as an artist and activist, the Self Care Action works have also guided me through grief, global upheaval, family stress, health and life changes. As I share these works with others, I observe that a reminder to love and care for oneself is always welcome.