Michelle J Destefano

Festivals, Events & Exhibitions

The Cot Story Installation

An art installation of found objects, my sculptures and paintings on the story of the Cot at the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Days Left

The Cot encompasses what had happened in my life at end of 2001 when I was attacked and raped at art school on the last day. Then I was made pregnant and miscarried at 3 months. That painful time, I came across a cot from the 1800s in early 2002 which somehow something clicked in me. It was the very symbol that gave me a healing. I knew I would be ok, I knew the miscarried baby is up there, an angel, my angel. It also gave me the power in my mind to say ā€œF*#k this! That rapist will never stop me from going for my dream to be an artist or to live my life! He will never have power over me!

From then on, I grew as I healed. I was fortunate to have the support of a dear close friend who, at the time did not know what happened, but her joyful positive and kind but strong nature helped me get through this as did the cot that stayed in my mind.

Shortly after the miscarriage, on returning to art school (which was very hard!) I saw the spirit of a baby in my bedroom. That was the spirit coming to assure me and watch over me. Little did I know there were bad spirits around me caused by someone who had come to stay with me for a short time, and this baby spirit would be my protector. I found out much later about the bad spirits after I moved out of that house, when all my energy returned and scary things like thunderstorms around the house stopped happening.

This project is a culmination of my story, and involves wire sculptures of cots, rocking chairs and mixed medium materials for the artefacts that bring together the whole story. It started to piece together like a puzzle in early 2005 when I had recurring dreams that were scary and emotional and included symbols of what was happening and also took me far back into a past life that connected to my current life, and the events that happened in both lives.

The rocking chair with the cot, the rattle with the old tatty floppy soft toy rabbit, the mirror with the comb brush, all combine symbols of the story. The loss of a baby by miscarriage, the coping with both rape and miscarriage, dealing with the emotions and darkness of what had happened, finding the light at the end. The sculptures Iā€™m making form a set and together with acrylic and watercolour paintings that depict further the story particularly the ghost side.

Along with exhibits of my sculptures and paintings is an installation of a life sized 1800ā€™s cot sourced from Canberra, and life sized sheet covered wire sculptures of figures and a smaller one of baby spirit. The installation takes place in a dark room, dimly lit by a moon lamp that represents coping and nurturing, and in a corner is wooden planks that cover part of wall, depicting the run-downness of the situation, and tearing apart the damage done by the attacker, and survival.

Find out more: www.chelledestefano.com

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I’m a Deaf artist working in watercolour, acrylic, gouache and mixed media, born in Melbourne and currently living in Adelaide, South Australia.

I have been practicing arts for 15 years and exhibiting for the last decade and recently as an international artist in Europe. I exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2015 and had two solo exhibitions in Paris and Bath, UK in late 2016.

My most notable solo exhibitions were the Port Noarlunga exhibition in May 2014, the Blue Ghosts solo in Melbourne in 2015 and Wait of the World solo in Melbourne in 2016 at Gasworks Art Park, and the solo exhibition in Paris, which all had great turn outs and most of my artworks sold.

I have attained quite a few awards, some of the best this year (2016) include the Australian Arts Council grant for my Paris and UK solo exhibitions, the Arts SA grant for Wait of the World exhibition in Melbourne at Gasworks, and the Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS Website Featured Artist Award with Manhattan Arts International, New York.

I have a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Applied Design (2006) from SA (South Australia) Arts School.


Liz McLean


Haley Martin


Jessica Cameron


Gary Tatti


Kellie Cunnington


Julie Gillespie


Not Applicable


Catriona FitzGerald