I recently graduated with a first in contemporary portraiture from The Art Academy, London and my graduation show project focused on the ancestry search for my long lost family and the recurring patterns of loss and hardship that pulled my family apart.
Lost is a portrait of my mother who died when I was young; her mother was institutionalised while she was still a baby. This 1930s/40s child’s bonnet is embroidered with rhyme that serves as a mnemonic, detailing the key stages of her short and often challenging life.
Trousseau is a vintage linen box with 13 antique linens plus a census-style document that tells the stories of the women in my maternal line – a succession of laundresses, maids and char women. The biggest surprise for me was discovering that four generations of my family had lived around the roads where I was born and grew up. I had no idea.
Stain attempts to communicate with my lost grandmother. These pieces are created in domestic materials – tea, fire grate polish, bleach and iron burn – materials that are volatile, unpredictable and liable to fade – much like my memory and connections.
These pieces are my family and I made them with love.
Classification of Unpaid Domestic Duties looks at my own class duality. The heart of me is defiantly working class but, after higher education and a 30-year career in publishing including 10 years at high-end style bible Homes & Gardens, I can no longer categorise myself this way.
Where does that leave me?
A ‘story station’ at the show included an audio of my tale (you can listen below) and I encouraged others to share something too. Big thanks to all those who chose to do so.
And, if you are loving the look of the location and thinking “where IS that?” we were lucky enough to show in a fabulous building – the former Newington Library, Elephant & Castle, London.
Finally, I must pay homage and send huge thanks to my two amazing tutors for their unstinting, dedicated and generous guidance and support throughout this project: Master Artists Sadie Lee and Roxana Halls I salute you.
Click below to read my show statement.