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.
During the Beechworth Contemporary Art Award, participants are invited to join me and participate in a live knitting/craft circle in front of this work. This component of the work continues my creation of knitting circles in museum and public spaces as a means of building community connection and resilience. Participants are invited to bring their own knitted or textile work and join an informal discussion about craft, feminism, selfcare, and community. People of all ages are welcome.
Friday September 16 11.00-1pm
Saturday September 17 10am – 3pm
Sunday September 18 10am – 3pm
The artist will attend all these sessions. Each circle will hold 12 chairs. If sessions are busy, please stay for up to half an hour and then make space for others to join. If you visit the work outside the session times, you are welcome to sit and craft, or sit and chat, in the chairs!
Kate Just is a feminist artist best known for her inventive and political use of knitting. In
addition to her solo practice, Just often works socially and collaboratively within communities
to create large scale, public art projects that tackle significant social issues including sexual
harassment and violence against women.
Just was born in Hartford, CT in 1974 and migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1994. Just
holds a PhD in Sculpture from Monash University, a Master of Arts from RMIT University, and
a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Victorian College of the Arts where she is a Senior Lecturer in the
Master of Contemporary Art program. Just has exhibited her artwork extensively across
Australia in over one hundred group and solo exhibitions including at the NGA, ACCA,
Artspace, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Gertrude Contemporary and CCP. Internationally she
has exhibited her work at AIR Gallery and the AC Institute in New York, at the ICA in
Richmond Virginia, the Rijswijk Museum in the Netherlands, the Auckland Art Fair, Kunsthalle
Krems in Austria, Sanskriti Gallery in New Delhi, Youkobo Artspace in Tokyo and Titanik
Galleria in Turku, Finland.
Just has been the recipient of over forty grants, prizes, fellowships, awards and residencies.
She has received grants from the Australia Council for the Arts, City of Melbourne and
Creative Victoria. She was the winner of the 2007 Seimen’s Prize, the 2013 British Council
Realise Your Dream Award, the 2014 Rupert Bunny Visual Art Fellowship, the 2015
Wangaratta Textile Prize, the 2020 Incinerator Art for Social Change People’s Choice Award
and the 2022 Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship (Visual Art). She has undertaken local
residencies at Gertrude Contemporary and the Australian Tapestry Workshop and been
awarded numerous international residencies including Art Omi in New York, Red Gate in
Beijing, Youkobo Artspace in Tokyo, the Australia Council Residency in Barcelona, the
Asialink residency at Sanskriti Foundation in New Delhi and a KREMS AIR residency in Krems
Austria. Just’s work is held in numerous public and private collections including the NGA,
Artbank, the City of Port Phillip, Wangaratta Art Gallery, TAMA, The Shiela Foundation, Art
Gallery SA and the Proclaim Management Collection. Kate Just is represented by Hugo
Michell Gallery in Adelaide.