About Donna McDonald

I am a disability studies/ creative arts researcher and teacher with strong connections with the arts, disability, community, and university sectors. In 2018, I co-edited (with Bree Hadley) a seminal interdisciplinary text, The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture and Media Studies (See https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Disability-Arts-Culture-and- Media/Hadley-Mcdonald/p/book/9780815368410)

Consolations of Sorrow

Essay: Contemplating Colin McCahon’s The Fourteen Stations of the Cross

Whether we make, look at, or talk about paintings, the nature of our engagement and the tenor of our responses will most likely spring from a personal story. We know that our lives do not roll forwards as a single narrative arc; and that we create order out of confusion in hindsight. For some of us, art helps us to create that order, to make sense of our past, or at the very least to find consolation.

Read more at: https://mccahonhouse.org.nz/100/donna-mcdonald/

Published by McCahon House Trust 10 September 2020. Book in press.

Consolations of Sorrow2020-09-12T19:01:15+10:00

Alterations: an art exhibition by sight-impaired artists

Alterations showcases the creative works of a selection of Queensland artists who are blind or partially sighted. (Hosted by Art from the Margins Gallery & Studios, 24 October 2020-27 November 2020)

My aim as the curator of Alterations is to show how sight-impaired artists adapt their artistic creative processes to make art in response to their world. Their powerful art works reveal their sense of identity and challenge our assumptions about disability.

Festival Flower by Levi DiBall
Alterations: an art exhibition by sight-impaired artists2020-10-02T07:08:04+10:00

Inclusive Galleries and Museums

Disability Advisor to a major architect firm about inclusive design practices.

Art galleries and museums can do more to involve people with disability. If the experiences of people with disabilities are more valued, then the prospect of understanding their experiences becomes more possible and rewarding.

Inclusive Galleries and Museums2020-10-02T07:07:56+10:00

Real Art-Poems for Unreal Times

I began my “Covid Diary: Real Art-Poems for Unreal Times” (title influenced by Neil Astley’s 2003 breathtaking anthology of poems, “Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times”) a week or so before the Australian lock-down. It began with a conversation with a close, life-long friend – more sister than friend – who counselled me about resilience.

I was feeling deeply tapped out by life. I was close to depression, keen to give up, give in, and lie down. My friend gave me a recipe for resilience. I chose to illustrate it as a way of fixing it in my mind and heart, and as a way of honouring both the recipe and my friend.

That first page, here in this journal, became the springboard for what followed – still follows today. Every second day or so, I painted a small image within the small confines of these pages. Sometimes, I painted how I felt. Sometimes, I painted how I wanted to feel. And then I turned to Neil Astley’s “Real Poems for Unreal Times” to find the poem that expressed what was hidden in my small paintings.

The act of painting combined with the search for, and rewriting, the companion poem developed into a deeply satisfying routine of reflection.

Towards the end of this journal, another friend sent me the words on the final page, and I saw how history turns on itself, repeats and consoles:

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently. And the people healed.

“And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed in new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they healed.”

Written by Kitty O’Meara 1839-1888, during the time of cholera.

I invite you to view my Covid Diary by clicking here: “Real Art-Poems for Unreal Times”


Real Art-Poems for Unreal Times2020-10-14T14:43:17+10:00

Disability Arts, Culture & Media

Hadley, Bree and McDonald, Donna. Eds. 2018. The Routledge Handbook of Disability Arts, Culture and Media

In this ground-breaking book, we explore how d/Deaf and disabled people use arts, media, and cultural practices to fight for their rights in a world that continues to stereotype and exclude and devalue them in almost all cultural spheres.

A world-first in its interdisciplinary approach to these issues, it includes 40 major international and Australian academics, artists, and activists writing about everything from toys to theatre to tourist attractions to top level sports events such as the paralympics.

Disability Arts, Culture & Media2020-10-02T07:07:42+10:00

Binna Burra: Scorched

One Summer Day

I painted this work (mixed media on paper) on Sunday 8 September 2019, in response to the news that Binna Burra Lodge, the heritage-listed wooden lodge building that had stood since the 1930s, was devastated by bushfire.

Founded in 1933 by conservationists Romeo Lahey and Arthur Groom as a place for people to stay and enjoy the beauty of the Lamington National Park, the lodge had panoramic views of the surrounding rainforest. The area is part of the World Heritage-listed Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia.

Binna Burra: Scorched2020-10-02T07:08:19+10:00

Focus on Australian Women Writers with Disability

Memoir as Protest: Guest Post by Donna McDonald

McDonald, D. 9 September 2014. ‘Memoir as Protest’ in Australian Women Writers. Donna was diagnosed as deaf when she was three years old and went to a school for deaf children in Brisbane for five years. When Donna was eight years old, her parents enrolled her at a private girls school where she completed her schooling before going on to university.

It was not until Donna was fifty years old that she began to reflect deeply on the impact of her life-long task to ‘fit in’ as a deaf person in a hearing world. She wrote about her journey of discovery in her memoir The Art of Being Deaf

Focus on Australian Women Writers with Disability2020-10-02T07:08:25+10:00

Grief Observed

In Memoriam Art Exhibition 2019

This art show was held by the Cathedral of St Stephen Art Group (COSSAG). My paintings, ‘Grief Dares Us to Love Again’ and ‘Grief Observed’, are about the enduring sorrow of bereaved mothers. I do this by using the Japanese concept of kintsugi – ‘golden repair’ or ‘golden joinery’— to show how we can heal ourselves in our sorrow.

Sorrow is Written into the Contract of Life
Grief Observed2020-10-02T07:08:33+10:00