I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I’m stuck.
I have to write my project proposal by next week, have a review of my first semester the following week and in 3 weeks time produced work for a group crit.
What is stopping me from making? I’ve never been short of ideas so why am I now? I procrastinate at an alarming rate. Even writing this is procrastination.
Opening Paragraph of my proposal
Recently I explored my family history in order to determine my place within it. Usually the linear (fan, standard or vertical) family tree is favoured but this 2D representation gave me no visual concept of the positioning of my forbearers in relation to each other or to their occupation of the years. By making a 3D installation I demonstrated their and my location within time/space. Although this theme could be expanded and re-worked I wish to move forward. I am now the matriarch of my family and this year I will investigate the same time/space concept with regard to my children and grandchildren. This will be personal but I am mindful that I want my work to be readily accessible to others; I am not aiming for introspection.
Yes, I will work on this theme. I need to do some research first.
I’ve come across a website which may be of some use to me MAMSIE
Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics is a network based at the Department of Psychosocial Studies, Birbeck, that creates spaces for interdisciplinary conversations about motherhood and the maternal more broadly. This is a publication rich in articles and images
Suspended and Stitched (Mother and Child) (2013) incorporates large pieces of stone that have been split apart, drilled, stitched back together with rusty wire, and then embedded with latex casts of the artist’s nipples. One piece of stone hangs, suspended from a beam; it is connected to a smaller piece using delicate rusty wire, and both pieces balance precariously over a poured piece of rubber, one that appears to be a split pool of milk. Attached to the upper piece of stone are the artist’s latex cast nipples, emerging organically, they are thus called ‘The Nipple Flowers’, and were first made by Barker twenty years ago. Here they are here remade, to engage with the theme of ageing and progression as well as that of fertility and breast-feeding one’s child. The overall work at once creates and destroys balance. Fragile, creaturely structures break free and are at the same time connected to the strong, grounded and weighty. Broken, split and cracked, materials are then healed and repaired. Elements are connected, but inevitably they move apart.
I’m intrigued by her work as it is so complex both in metaphor and materials. Although it is too ‘motherhood’ for what I’m wishing to make
For the Love of God (2009) is a diptych of knitted outfits for babies; they were knitted with stinging nettle yarn from original 1940s patterns. The yarn is coarse, and thus slow, painful and laborious to work with. The garments were knitted with resentment for traditional expectations placed upon women. The act left rope burn on the artist’s fingers therefore introducing notions of female self-sacrifice, and also harm to children. Historically, stinging nettles were used as a method of self-flagellation by certain religious orders, as well as a material to make Nazi Officer’s uniforms. The addition of bone buttons and needles used to the final works, further removes any typical sweet sentimentality associated with baby clothes. Instead, the details add notions of pain, and the ends rather than the beginnings of life.
I admire Paula’s considered use of materials as they add more to the work than on first viewing.
Daddy’s Girl and Daddy’s Little Princess (2012) are two separate pieces that on first glance appear to be padded headboards. Each piece is made up of 25 original vintage sewing patterns that have been moulded into shape when wet. The paper casts are hollow, making the work more fragile than it seems, as well as completely impossible to use. The pieces were painstakingly made and close scrutiny reveals that the pattern illustrations have been subtly altered and subverted by the artist. Shockingly, the little girls fight, drink and smoke, and it is through these hurtful and violent additions, along with the works’ ambiguous titles that suggest abuse of many kinds. The uselessness of the piece also points to the heavy frustrations and disappointment experienced by the ‘not good enough’ mother.
Paula’s work has shown me I don’t wish to explore mother/child relationship but rather the relationship between mother and grown children. The question asked by strangers ‘Do you have children?’ Reply…’Yes. I have two’.
But they are no longer children as they have children of their own. Why is there no word for grown-up children?
Alison Stone: Maternal Memory and Lived Time
‘In this article I explore the temporal structure of maternal subjectivity by looking at how becoming a mother tends to prompt women to return to their infancy and their experiences of being cared for by their own mothers. The new mother remembers her own infantile past primarily at an affective, bodily, and habitual level, by re-enacting patterns of behaviour and affective response that once circulated between herself and her own mother. I suggest that this kind of maternal remembering generates a particular form of lived time: one that is cyclical, centring on the regular reappearance of an archaic past that cuts across time as a linear succession of moments. However, the mother’s past can only ever repeat itself with a difference. Because the past is re-enacted between the mother and her child, the past is always re-created in a new shape, adapted to the unique individual that each child is. This ensures that the mother can only remember her infantile past in the light of this novel present, a present that bestows on the past new meanings that it did not originally have. Thus the mother’s past returns, but never simply as it was.‘
I’ve had a break through!
A light bulb moment.
I will make an installation to demonstrate how my foremothers have had an effect on me and how in turn I’m passing it on.
In the meantime I’ll finish looking at the MAMSIE website
The Arms of Mother The series of work entitled The Skin of Hope was produced during a 2012 Australia Council for the Arts studio residency in Barcelona, where I was accompanied by my partner Paula and our adopted daughter, Hope. Blurring the usual divide between familial life and art practice, the residency inspired a series of hand knitted sculptures and photographs weaving an account of the ways that Hope and I acknowledge, bond and imprint each other at skin level. Materialising our past wounds and present, tactile connections, the works include a hanging, child-sized, knitted suit of armour for Hope and a reversible pair of knitted arm-length gloves for me, scar-embroidered with surgical stitches and the words HOPE and MOTHER. Through the slow crafting of the works, and the photographs of us wearing the garments, I reflected on Hope’s and my own resilience, repair and capacity to love. In a photographic work featuring Hope’s text and drawing of herself on my naked back, I further framed skin as both a receptive and transmissive space, bearing witness to our most intimate moments.
Family Quilt is the first print-assemblage in what became the Identity Series, a body of work that marks the changes, overlaps, and transformations of identity that occur in the life of the family. The series functions as an abstracted idea of portraiture, taking as its formal basis one fingerprint of each member of our family. Printed individually, the fingerprints highlight unique genetic qualities; when layered, they can speak to the temporary masking of identity that occurs in the position of motherhood. In hand-stitched print blankets, issues of genetic difference overlap, literally and metaphorically, with larger implications of family position—individuality alongside and within familial identity.
As a feminist artist and mother, I cope with the need to balance professional demands and strong maternal emotions, by creating situations that identify and illustrate the difficulty. This piece of needlework, Worried Mother, is the result of an activity (‘performance’ would imply more dissociative detachment than existed) in a hospital waiting room, while a child was having surgery. It became at once a creative act, a statement of the problem, and a means of transcending the situation it describes. The fact that the medium is embroidery references a long tradition of acceptable creative outlets for women; I found that experiencing a child’s illness connected me unexpectedly powerfully to a continuum of mothering, and women’s work, through the ages.