cropped Kay as Titania

Smoky sunshine rises out of the woods. One day, you will fly away. I begin to see this now.

Some things I have made for you:

A placenta.

A turtle made before I knew for sure I was ever going to have you, (just in case). I placed this on your pillow in the Neo Natal Unit, after smearing it with my milky smell, because they separated us.

A Red Riding Hood finger puppet, with Wolf (containing a re-claimed squeak).

My milk.

A place on my body, for you to sleep on.

Smiles, when my days were darker than your nights.

A steady voice.

Shadows, to entertain you.

Drawings to entertain you.

Holes, spaces, places.

Clothes.

Dinners.

A place in my bed.

My time.

A pretty bedroom, in your favourite turquoise.

Sometimes we do a role-reversal. I pick things up in the street; things which are worn by traffic, which interest me and which may end up in my art. She says, don’t pick that up Mum, it’s dirty. Don’t drink so much coffee, it’s bad for you. Sometimes she rubs my achey back.

It is not all about carrying her.

She is angry and sad about growing up. She is Titania. Queeny-princessy, she who is to be obeyed. She makes us dinner on Sunday nights now. She has to learn to share the difficulty of not having everything given. She is a boyish girl, who does not ever want to like boys, care about pop stars, hairstyles. She likes foxes, snakes, owls, trees. Mummy, I am different to them. There is no protecting her. She can get a bus by herself now, from the library to home. She is out in the world, more and more. I hope, I fear. Her body is changing.

Ever since she has been here, she has flooded my art. Her image gets inside. She is a fairy-watcher, Red Riding Hood walking by herself in the dark woods. You know who the Wolf really is. You fear. The tender chord has to be stretched outwards, painfully, inevitably. You have to let it play through your hands, more loosely now.

In those pictures… can you ever tell what she really is?

Just because I am her mother, I cannot claim to know. It’s not like that.

This week I have made nothing. The tide is out. It is all waiting for me down there.

About Frances Earnshaw

Frances Earnshaw graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1985 with a Master of Arts degree.

She had a solo show at Gallery 286, Earls Court, London in November 2012. She has shown work at The Freud Museum, London, The V&A Museum of Childhood, London and at the Museum of Folk and Fai…Read more

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