How Carolyn beat her fears

19:13, Nov 26 2012
carolyn mcatamney
In paint: Carolyn McAtamney poses in front of John Badcock's Olympia the Morning After which she modelled for undraped.

In an unorthodox journey, a Geraldine woman who was sexually assaulted has helped herself recover through pink hair and modelling undraped.

Carolyn McAtamney had a promising career as an opera singer abruptly ended when her vocal chords were damaged during a violent assault in England.

In 1993 she was attacked by two men and fought for her life with all the strength she could muster, and survived.

It took five years for Carolyn to get her singing voice back and even now she struggles with the "D" note.

Returning to Geraldine to recover, Carolyn was fearful of answering the door and spent time with a psychotherapist who taught her how to turn negatives into positives with the right tools.

In 2001 she sang for a Timaru St Mary's Church fundraiser and dyed her hair pink for the performance which strangely became another turning point in her life.


"I loved the colour; it was a point of difference. It allowed me to be me," she said.

When Geraldine artist John Badcock saw her with the fluoro mane he asked her to sit for him, which she did fully clothed.

"Becoming a sitter is to experience anything I can, to capture the moment."

As Badcock painted she says she evolved, as did his work.

"I'm not the same person every day."

When the artist paid homage to Edouard Manet's Olympia with his own version, Carolyn sat undraped.

Wearing only lipstick, Carolyn said she was acting the part of the prostitute as she would any role on stage. Clothes, she said, were what most people hide behind and taking them off was part of overcoming fear and being happy with who she is.

" Once it's on the wall it [the painting] has its own life which the artist has captured. If I take my clothes off I am still the same person."

Fear is everywhere, according to Carolyn but it was identifying it and finding answers that helped people move on.

She is grateful she has been surrounded by supportive family and friends which has meant she has found her answers and is no longer fearful.

"I am never not happy."

The Timaru Herald