My ancestry project, Trousseau, was always set to grow as I uncovered more information about my lost maternal line.
At the E17 Art Trail 2019, I showed two new pieces focusing on the lost children in my line. It’s hard to comprehend the relative normalcy of infant mortality, but it is plain to see in census information.
Resilience focuses on my 2nd great grandmother, widowed at 36 with six surviving children at that time and expecting her ninth. It is impossible to imagine. The loss of the breadwinner would have put the whole family in jeopardy, and six of her nine children died. I have stitched the sad facts along with a mantra that evokes the repetitive rhythm of the hard graft of washing laundry and the summoning of just enough energy to carry on.
One of Many turns to her daughter – my great grandmother. Having traced her lost siblings, I applied the same method to search for one of her own lost children – a surname + a small window of time + a tight geographical location. I failed to narrow it down so have honoured all 45 of the infant deaths registered in the name of Mason in the area in those few years, each name tag tied with a black remembrance ribbon.
You don’t have to travel far back in time to see how the easily-treated illnesses of today decimated the families of the past. We generally take our well-being for granted, assuming the path forward will always be one of advances. But nothing is certain. Climate change, antibiotic-resistance, growing pollution and the sustainability of food production are huge issues that need to be tackled with the utmost urgency if we wish to continue to thrive.
See the rest of my Trousseau project and listen to the audio that supports the story here.
A big thank you to Kwarme Kwei-Armah for selecting One of Many for the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition 2019 at The Mall Galleries. It is an honour to have it shown alongside such amazing and thought-provoking work.