Frances Earnshaw, pages from a notebook.
Frances Earnshaw, pages from a notebook
Frances Earnshaw, pages from a notebook
Frances Earnshaw, pages from a notebook

I go back to these pages. A lot of flow. Where do ideas come from? Birthing, the obvious metaphore. Chances spilling. It comes to me. I fail to fulfil all of the ideas, always ill these days.

When you become a mother, you have to get up in the night and at any time of day your child can call upon you. Every resource will go there. I feel bled out today. It’s funny, I will sit and knit, and finish Kay’s socks, but the words which call out these ideas remain simply two pages. I used these two pages several times; to make a statement for a show, to draw out more words. But I have not made the objects, the drawings, work which is twined in these two pages. You have to let it call on you, like a child in the night.

Some old movie, watched long ago. The man preferred the younger, shyer sister. He has a serious talk with her, as they lean on either side of the fireplace. “That cardigan is ruining your life.” I loved that line! It became a little catchphrase between me and my sister.

There is so much making in motherhood. Making dinners, making beds.

I used to teach. That drained me, too. Make a list of what must be done.

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

4 Responses to “Only words, no drawings”

  1. Helen Sargeant

    Mother’s making. The making of these words, this conversation. A knitting of ideas. I think of you at home knitting Kay’s socks. I love your thoughts of sitting with an idea, it calling out to you as a child calls its mother in the night, how it manifests. I imagine your knitting Kay’s socks, the needles and wool in your hands, it is a film your voice is narrating its passage, with words taken from out of your notebooks.

    I have lists and lists of pieces of art works that have never been made, they lie dormant, sleeping. I have a desire to make, but today in the studio, I feel all I can do is sort, shift, tidy, clean, file, email, do the housework, clear the way ahead.

  2. sally barker

    sometimes the words are the glue that holds all the visual stuff together and all words on a page are visual , they draw their way out of your thoughts onto the page, writing, drawing, mark making, thought making, thinking , scribbling , scribing. At the moment I am waking every night, the worrying thoughts are back , they steal me away from my good nights sleep, unlike a child who always has a reason for waking you, these worrying-thoughts really can wait til morning. I’m teaching myself to push them away before they can get a good tight , intricate and convoluted hold on me. Not like when your child wakes you up in the night and you snuggle in with them to soothe them and wrap yourself around them like a blanket, to squeeze away the bad dream. I’ll try to turn the worrying-thoughts into drawings, somehow, though its easier said during the day,than done during the night.
    I love the double pager, things are often better in pairs, like the socks, knitted in pairs

    • Frances Earnshaw

      Liking your thoughts about pages in pairs. I like the notebook so very much for this reason, and my handwriting is often scratchy, as I am caught out trying to get it down, retrieve the other thoughts layering over and above and below… it is a catch 22! And you also get the duality of the words coming through the page from the previous page, bleeding through, echoing.

      This site is making a good notebook for me… and the reminder of the key words of motherhood, beginning to bleed through all of our pages together. The surfaces which we fall through, gladly giving. I always knew that I needed motherhood to connect with what I needed next, to finally move away from a childishness in me, still there even though I was an oldish first time mother… motherhood changed crying for myself, concentrating on my own needs, loneliness.

  3. Helen Sargeant

    How sleep affects the self and the creative process is really interesting. Well it is debilitating if you cannot sleep, if it is interrupted.
    I too have been having an episode of waking in the night, well very early in the morning. I wake with a startle, then I start mulling over worries to do with the children. I write words to flow these thoughts out of me, they too I hope will become drawings, when I get a hold of them, form marks.
    On Tuesday morning I awoke fully clothed in my black outfit from the previous day. Whilst telling stories to Naoise in bed I had soothed myself to sleep.
    I thought about the transition time, of Naoise growing more independent, starting school, and me dressed in black falling into a void.
    Knitting in pairs, thinking of socks, odd socks, reuniting pairs of socks.


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