These are the worst of days. My father's cancer has not responded to a range of different treatments. His doctors now talk of palliative care rather than recovery and are non-committal about its duration. There's nothing I can do but spend as much time as I can with him. He remains resolute, strong and dignified and whenever I'm around him, I've tried to be too. The rest of the time, I'm gutted with grief and fear.Art is the only way I know to process any of it but I have no desire to share with anyone the notes and sketches I make each day. What my father's going through is too damn hard to be anything but private. He is an unconventional man. He is often described as intense – and whether that's a compliment or criticism is, well, uncertain. We've had our differences, especially over the past few years, but when I was younger, he offered me boundless encouragement and support, both as an artist and as a woman. He taught me to be strong-willed, independent and unfazed by risk and instilled in me a healthy disregard for convention (even if I took it a little further than he'd intended). He turned me on to fierce, unyielding female role models, starting with comic-book super-heroines and villainesses and archetypal 'bad girls' like Vampirella.
My father loves my art most when it is, as he puts it, "in your face" – which is to say he loves it when it's big, bold, aggressive, and sexy (less so when it's frankly sexual). When I first thought about the 'rock 'n' roll' art tour I'm planning for next year, it occurred to me that it might be a perfect opportunity to pay homage to the peripatetic, eccentric, yet über-feminist upbringing that was my father's best gift to me. My mind was – still is – inundated with unrestrained scenes played out by the provocative, larger-than-life women he urged me to emulate even before I reached puberty. If he lives to see it, I think he will savour the exhibitions, even if there's an inevitable frisson of shock. I've used myself as a model for my own works since I was in my twenties but for a long time, it was just role-playing. My father used to tell me that he thought it wasn't enough for me to paint these women, that I needed to become them. And over time, I have. My art's the better for it. No longer simply playing at dress-up, I've begun to delve deeper into what this transformation has wrought. So what can one expect of the shows themselves? It's too early to say but I'm leaving myself plenty of scope. A couple of years ago, I was upbraided by a well-known Australian art critic for coming up with exhibition titles that didn't communicate what he regarded as a 'proper' seriousness about my work. But fuck him. I'm calling next year's tour Fame, Sex, Money + Madness. I'm sure my father would approve.