When we started discussing what it was that we were exploring it became apparent we were all trying to make sense of what it was to be a daughter with a gaping hole in the maternal line preceding us. For me, the opportunity to show work together has been about looking in more depth at pictures I made that consider my experiences with miscarriage and fertility treatment.
When things had become initially difficult for me it coincided with my mother dying. I tried making pictures for a ‘performance of pregnancy’. I was continuing my attempts to make work despite having no space to think, trying to articulate everything that was happening. I acted out shapes of a swollen stomach with a cushion, wearing my grandmother’s blue dress. But I found it all a bit too sad….so I stopped.
Later, after my mother died, I found some beautiful pictures of her pregnant with me – two 5×4 transparencies, glowing like tiny Dutch paintings, taken by my father in 1975. Even though they had been in my possession for years since his own death more than a decade before I had never looked in this particular box, only opening it less than a month after her funeral instead.
I have always been fascinated by children’s role-playing… imagination propelling their games of dress -up. I did it myself, putting on my mother’s platform shoes as a little three- or four-year-old girl, tromping about the garden as a ‘grown up’.
In my first months and years as an adult orphan I started to perform this role again. Only this time I was grown up – I was just still pretending to be a mummy.