In October 2016, I began a one year artist residency at the University of Derby as part of the AA2A programme (Artists Access to Art Colleges, funded by Arts Council England and participating universities), to enable me to further develop my on-going project ‘tell me about your mother…’. Through this project, I gather stories about mothers and maternal relationships, using a participatory installation.
These collected stories have formed one aspect of the project, and have been presented in exhibitions in various ways, but frequently using materials such as paper and fabric.
Discontent with the impermanence of these surfaces, I set out to discover more solid and durable methods of honouring these valued comments. My AA2A residency proposal was to create a series of large-scale sculptures with these ‘mother stories’ forming the primary focus, acting as a more permanent record of the project.
And so after a year of experimenting, (failing and succeeding), the residency has enabled and supported this new work; ‘Mother Bowls’.
As everyday, domestic objects, bowls signify a female sensibility: receptacles speaking of fertility, nourishment and the potential for life. Visually and metaphorically, bowls reference the maternal body as both vessels and carriers, in particular symbolising the womb of the Great Mother. Historically, they hold great cultural and spiritual significance, often acting as containers for healing, caring and protection.
Drawn to their round, curved and organic shape, their uncomplicated functionality and irrefutable familiarity, I formed the Mother Bowls as carriers for the collected reminiscences of mothers; containers to holdand safeguard each word, unburdening those who have shared their experiences.
Referencing cross-cultural and traditional customs, each bowl acts as a vessel for a single curated memory, inscribed on the inner surface. Simple in form, and created using plaster and concrete, the bowls are simultaneously strong yet fragile. Stacked together and presented as collected memories, the broken and unfinished bowls reflect the vulnerability and honesty expressed in the gathered texts.