Cathy Daley was born in Toronto in 1955. She studied at the Ontario College of Art from 1973 to 1975 and at Art's Sake Inc. in Toronto from 1979 to 1980. Daley's main preoccupation has been the depiction and resulting definition of the female body and its relationship to private and public space. Apart from her work as a visual artist, Daley has also designed sets and props for theatre projects with the Toronto Theatre Centre in 1991 and the Rhubarb Festival in 1992.
In the early 1990s Daley gained attention with two related bodies of work: a series of life-sized reclining or sleeping nudes, executed in rich, solid black silhouettes; and a group of small, melancholic paintings depicting women dressing and undressing in muted interiors. Her drawings examine notions of feminine identity and form. At the same time, she has always been concerned with the process of how these works came about. She says of her drawing process:
"It's a record of what took place. It feels more alive that way, with the evidence of process. I work at a drawing and then rework it. The large drawings I do on the floor so I can move around. It's a very physical process, being immersed in the work."
This can be seen in the large drawing of a dress, Untitled (1996). In explaining her working method, she continues:
"It is an idea of notation, sometimes like writing. It's very immediate and also intuitive: a thinking process. I can change the image with one stroke. I'll do several drawings in one session and my ideas evolve through working. I'll start with one image and that will lead me to the next, yet often I repeat and repeat an image."
- Cathy Daley, 1994