recording the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood
My art practice can be described as ‘textile mark-making.’ The process of drawing in thread arose as a way to trace the cycles of grief and loss following the death of a significant family member. In an attempt to exteriorize the circuitous process of memory and mourning, I used a family sewing machine to trace the void left by losing a meaningful connection. I used each pass of needle and thread to meditate on a cherished memory, with each circumference tracing the recalled moment. Each circle is an attempt to (re)capture the essential core of what was once experienced. Yet this act of recollection marks a new, permanent memory, leaving an object to remember remembering. The series ritualizes the impossibility of returning to the origin of memory. The drawings are an ongoing process recognizing the transitional qualities of art-making and its capacity to be a guardian of memory.
The drawing in thread process has since expanded and evolved. ‘The Journey’ is a collection of works (Marked Moments and Wails of Becoming) recording the unfolding experience of being pregnant with my first child and my evolving relationship to motherhood. ‘Marked Moments’, the first piece in this collection, provided me the space to find a voice to express the vulnerability, trepidation and excitement associated with this familiar yet deeply personal female experience. The work documents the physical, cognitive and emotional realizations that transpired over the duration of the pregnancy. A weekly drawing symbolizing the gestational age was created by inscribing paper with the equivalent number of circular marks. The collection of 40 works on paper was completed when the pregnancy ended, marking the culmination of one experience and the commencement of another.
The next work, "Wails of Becoming", is a series of 'movement' drawings that have been embroidered onto antique linen. The original drawings were marked in a sketchbook with pencil each time a contraction occurred during early labour. These embodied drawings document a period of time from 7:04 to 8:57pm on March 11, 2018. Art-making was used as a way to manage the initial discomfort and pain by focusing energy into the creative process. Since the birth of my child, the drawings have been transferred onto fabric once again ritualizing and deepening the relationship to the memory remembered. The process has also assisted me in celebrating the birth after prolonged and complicated delivery where "the act of sewing is a form of emotional repair" (Louise Bourgeois).
This series contains: Marked Moments (2017-2018) Wails of Becoming (2018)
‘Marked Moments’ (June 2017 - March 2018) thread sewn into watercolour paper The evolving collection of drawings is an installation honouring the documentation processes of memory, identity and the pregnancy experience.
‘Wails of Becoming’ embroidery on antique linen
Embroidery drawings created from sketches that were drawn as a mode of pain management during early stages of labour.