I have not managed to post much recently, probably because I was being too critical, expecting the work to be profound and meaningful.  I feel that I must allow myself a bit more space to mess up and not expect perfection.

Having read Helen’s insightful and important comments on a recent post of mine I am inspired to try and make a comment, put something out there, take part, join in, even just for the sake of doing it.

Looking through my iPhone snaps from the past few weeks, I intuitively choose these two images, one of my 4 year old son’s back as he bent over in the bathroom to check the scales (he’s learning to count) and another posted through to me by my husband, while visiting the Israel museum, he was posting images back to me because same son decided he had enough of museums and wouldn’t come in, so I stayed outside in the sculpture garden, occasionally receiving visual tit bits from inside the building.

The two images made me think about the contrast between how over used the female figure is in representation and art in contrast with the figure of the child and how potentially vilified a mother might be when using the bodies of her children in her art.  How come something that is so much part of life, particularly women’s life is disallowed to us as artists?   A prohibition operating through two distinct registers, one of fear and blame, when a representation of a child is immediately associated with sexual deviance of the worst kind and the other through trivialisation and a kind of devaluation,  in the words of a female acquaintance who is a respected photographic curator and gallery owner explaining why she didn’t like the recent Home Truths exhibition, she said “too many babies”.

About Eti

I am an artist and academic teaching Photography at the University of West London.
My visual art practice is a personal investigation of the limits of maternal subjectivity expressed through photography and video and I also write about the maternal in contemporary art practice.
I am a…Read more


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2 Responses to “The Israel Museum in my bathroom”

  1. Frances Earnshaw

    It can be hard to write here. We artists sometimes sabotage ourselves. All this rich opportunity, and we log on and faff about with other stuff! We see how lovely it is, and want to add perfection. I think Helen makes a good role model… allow for it all, odd socks, washing up and all.

  2. Helen Sargeant

    I love that your husband posted images to you from within the Israel Museum while you were outside looking after your son. I can picture this so clearly. Sydney used to love museum’s and art galleries. He would love to charge about and experiment with the acoustics. Looking was punctuated by his dashing. Now Naoise dashes and Sydney sits plugs himself into his phone and listens to music.
    It doesn’t make any sense that there is such a trivialisation of work related to children’s bodies. It seems rather crazy that it is so frowned upon. Surely to want to represent our children is a perfectly normal thing to want to do, especially when we spend so much time caring for them, being in their presence.
    I love looking at my children’s bodies. Kissing them. Holding them close. Enjoying them. Caressing their soft skin. The sensuousness of touch. Watching their joy at being naked on a beach, uninhibited and free. I thought about what you said here and took a look at Betsy Scheiders and Tierney Gearon’s work, hoping to be able to come up with something profound to say. I haven’t though, I will keep looking, thinking reading. Thank you for your thought provoking comments. How could the curator and gallery owner you mention be so blind to what the work in the Home Truths exhibition was about. There is so much stigma around the maternal, its helpful to think why that might be.
    I honestly don’t feel like a role model Frances. I worry too. I worry about the quality of things. Is the idea thought out enough, is it too personal, is it too sketchy. Am I sharing too much, is this really what I think, did I actually say that ?Am I being honest, do I actually mean that ? I wonder about the representation of my children in my work, the ethics ? How I should consider them ?
    I looked at a drawing I had uploaded today and one of the figures has got a hand like a bunch of bananas….I’m no picasso. Heads and hands are so hard to draw. But this project for me is not about measuring my draught woman skills so that is ok. For me its about throwing out some ideas, seeing what the response is, having a go, playing. It draws me in.


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