Hooded cloak tells survival tale

FACING DOWN THE WOLF: Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell opens Tammy Allen’s Window of Opportunity exhibition in the Star Court Arcade.
FACING DOWN THE WOLF: Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell opens Tammy Allen’s Window of Opportunity exhibition in the Star Court Arcade. Liina Flynn

CANCER survivor and artist Tammy Allen has faced down a wolf and now tells her life stories through fairy tales.

In a shop front Window of Opportunity (WOO) exhibition in Lismore's Star Court Arcade, a red hooded cloak tells the tale of how she faced her own fears when she was diagnosed with a rare skin cancer more than a year ago.

"'To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul' is what I've printed onto the cloak," Tammy said. "The wolf represents my fears; it means I had to look into myself and face my own fears. Now I am sharing my story with other people and not keeping it all inside myself."

Tammy found a lump on her head just over a year ago while she was studying art at SCU, and has now undergone two operations to remove skin cancers.

"When I first found out, I stopped doing art and it wasn't until I took an art therapy course that I got back on track when I found a way to express myself," Tammy said.

The WOO exhibition is Tammy's first solo exhibition since she graduated from SCU.

In the shop window, Tammy has explored the red riding hood fairy tale, creating prints of a wolf as well as a hooded cloak she has sewn together from paper made from her own ripped-up clothes.

"This is the first time I've told anyone about my diagnosis," Tammy said.

"My message to people is to wear a hat all the time and make sure they get checked out by a doctor because early detection of cancer is the key to surviving it."

Tammy's story resonated with Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell - who is herself a cancer survivor.

Mayor Dowell this week launched Tammy's exhibition and called for other businesses to consider offering up their shop windows as art exhibition spaces.

"While the Art in the Heart project has come to an end, the WOO is still going and provides an opportunity to nurture an artist's talent and creativity as well as to enhance local businesses," Mayor Dowell said.

"This shop window is something that would have otherwise been a curtained wall. Shop windows of service businesses such as accountants are perfect spaces to use for art exhibitions."

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