Visual representation of the ‘shadow’ concept for Yr 11

Below is a photograph of a diorama I made tonight as a model for my Year 11 advanced English class. They have their visual representations of the shadow concept due this Friday – with a 300 word rationale – and I thought I’d make one as a model to show them how they might be able to do it. Making it and writing the rationale only took me a couple of hours, so I reckon they can ace it even if they leave it until the night before, lol. It’s quite a personal piece, but it was rather cathartic making it and sharing it. My mum will be cool with me sharing it, she’s very open about her experiences and I think this is part of her healing process (and probably mine too).

This is the assessment task if you’re wondering what I’m going on about: Assessment Task 1-2013-2




The process of individuation necessarily involves struggle and trauma as the individual acknowledges the role that social taboos and values have on the evolution of his or her shadow. It is only once the truths hidden in the darkness of the unconscious mind come to light in the conscious mind, that the shadow can be genuinely integrated into the True Self. I have chosen to visually represent this personal understanding of the Shadow through the diorama form. My diorama represents a truly personal inner journey, namely my developing awareness of the truth about my mother’s experience of Forced Adoption and the unconscious impact that this has had on my life.

 Symbolism of the question mark and barcode on the baby carriage represents my lack of knowledge regarding my half-brother and intends to provoke similar feelings of confusion in my responder. Contrastingly, the colour symbolism of the background washing from black to red and then to white, aims to inform my responder of my shift from being ignorant of mother’s traumatic past (black) to the embracing of the positive impact this discovery has on my understanding of my self (red then white). Finally, the tactile jutting out of the scissors and Band-Aid from the diorama dramatically illustrate my belief that social taboos and values impact the evolution of an individual’s shadow.  The scissors symbolise the cutting of the primitive mother/child bond. I also used key words on the scissors to represent society’s values and taboos in the 1970s such as BFA which stands for ‘baby for adoption’ – the acronym used on paperwork in hospitals that participated in forced adoption. However, the Band-Aid acts to signify a coming to light of the truth through the National Apology for Forced Adoption and the impact this had on my ability to heal through understanding my past.

 This diorama, whilst derived from personal experience, prompts the responder to consider their own shadow and how it may be shaped be elements beyond their control, specifically social taboos and values. Whilst bringing our shadow to light is painful, it is a necessary part of our inner journey towards Individuation.


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