I look at my 10 year old son, and I wonder…..
– Did I say the right thing?
– Did I do the right thing?
– How did I react?
– What will he remember?
– Did he understand my intentions?
– Did I say the wrong thing?
– Was I too harsh?
– Should I have said yes?
– Why did I react that way?
– What will he think of me when he’s older?
….and then I look at myself, and I wonder about my mother…..
I began my year-long residency at Nottingham University with a project in mind – “Tell me about your mother’”. Prior to this, my artistic concerns had very much centred on my relationship with my son, and in particular the everyday, incidental moments that we shared; activities that could easily be overlooked such as brushing his hair, cutting his toenails or collecting the fallen peas from his plate. These seemingly minor events gradually became more and more important to me and took on a greater significance; these are the things that I want to remember, the events that will shape the larger picture, and the accumulation of which makes up a whole that is, I believe, our relationship.
Lisa Baraitser in her book, ‘Maternal encounters’ (2009 pp.3-4) describes how exploring “mundane and usually overlooked moments of maternal experience… unexceptional incidents” can create a renewed sense of maternal subjectivity, and can enable the mother, and by extension the viewer of a work, to be “…re-sensitized to sound, smell,emotions, sentient awareness, language, love.”
I remember ‘unexceptional incidents’ from my childhood…. at least I have my perception of these events. And these, together with a multitude of other factors, have shaped me into the person I am today.