Sophia Xeros-Constantinides’ art-making was re-awakened as a mother of two. Once Sebastian and Bianca were both at school she was able to study Fine Art part-time as a mature-aged student at Monash University, Caulfield Campus. Prior to this, Sophia had seen her dear mother, Maria Xeros Colbert, learn to paint at summer school in Melbourne in the 1960s, under the direction of artists Robert Grieve and Dawn Westbrook, and later Sophia saw Maria extend her embroidery skills to new heights at the Embroiderer’s Guild, Victoria.
Through her clinical work as a Medical Doctor and Psychological Therapist treating pregnant women and new mothers, Sophia started to explore the visualisation of women’s reproductive experiences. This led Sophia to use drawing, printmaking and collage in her post-graduate art-making, to create her own visual metaphors for the complex and often traumatic reproductive experiences that women reported to her and to others. Sophia’s own maternal grandmother, Yiayia Evdokia, lost her first-born babe-in-arms Eleftheria when they had to flee Smyrna before the catastrophe in September 1922. Later, Evdokia had thirteen more pregnancies but only five babies survived to grow as children and adults.
In her Collage work, Sophia explores the female form and questions what it is to be human. Her art-practice is characterised by appropriation and juxtaposition that manifest in her collage works on paper and in her prints and drawings. These works challenge integrity and identity, recall surrealistic and uncanny forces and give expression to alternative realities.
Since completing her PhD, Sophia has taken up Painting in oils and gouache. For this she has ventured to Europe, and back to England, where she had lived for eight years, in her secondary school years, in Birmingham with her aunt Margaret Ryle and her dear Uncle Nick. She finds inspiration in the traditions of European art, in figurative painting, in colour and in representing the interface between Nature and (Western) Culture.
1998-2001: Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons) Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University
2002-2005: Masters of Fine Art (by Research) Monash University (Thesis Title: “Procreative Bodies Envisioned: A Visual Exploration of Female Reproductive Experiences.”)
2006-2017: Doctor of Philosophy (Fine Art)(by Research), Faculty of Art & Design, Monash University. (Thesis Title: “Strangers in a Strange Land: Envisioning the Darker side of Motherhood.”)
ART THERAPY PUBLICATION
‘Myself as a Tree: The enabling power of an Art Therapy intervention in clinical work with post-natally distressed women-mothers’ in “Therapeutic Arts in Pregnancy, Birth and New Parenthood” Edited by Susan Hogan, Routledge, New York, 2021.
SELECTED PRIZES / AWARDS
2012: Mayoral Art Prize Maroondah City Council (acquisitive)
2006: Prize-winner (acquisitive) textile art in Fabricate 2006, Embroiderers’ Guild, Vic
2002: Australian Postgraduate Award
2016: Bitter-Sweet Embrace PhD Exam Exhibition, Monash Uni, MADA Gallery, Caulfield
2013: More Earthly Delights, Catherine Asquith Gallery, Collingwood
2012: Earthly Delights, Jackman Gallery St Kilda. 20-page catalogue, Earthly Delights
2010: Bedlam: The bitter-sweet embrace of motherhood, Maroondah Art Gallery, exhibition of collage, drawings and digital prints. 28-page catalogue, Bedlam
2009: Gestate – AAIMH/Marcé Conference Solo Exhibition, University of Melbourne
2006: Running with Pigs – Solo Exhibition exploring peri-natal loss, P.O. Gallery, Ballarat
2005: Concoct – Masters Fine Art by Research Exhibition, Monash Faculty Gallery, Caulfield
2001: Template: Beginnings & Becomings-An exploration of women’s experience in relation to reproduction, Women’s Bodies/History Conference, University of Melbourne