I made the space at the Kaya Sulc Studio feel like home. Mum gave me the piece of fabric draped across the chair many years ago. It’s a sarong she bought back from a holiday. Having my paintings all around and a flowering indoor plant reminded me of mum. I grew up with indoor plants, a native garden and art on every wall.
Tomorrow I will be on the driveway at 6.00 am observing the makeshift Anzac Memorial that my neighbour will unveil on his wall. A news report tonight predicted that driveway memorials might draw a larger number of people than the traditional Anzac Day ceremonies. Such is the power of the idea of collective remembering.
War memorials, like other public memorials such as the Septemeber 11 Memorial in New York, commemorate events that are seared into the collective memory. They keep alive the memory of those who died, while telling a story of the place, the time and circumstance of their death. Generally they provide a collective meeting place for remembering on anniversaries, and at other times invite us to contemplate and make our own meanings.
In country towns all around Australia, the commemorative obilisks dedicated to those who died in the First World War are a familiar and somehow comforting feature. This year the steps or enclosures of these memorials to the fallen will be bereft of floral wreaths. Seeing dying wreaths around these stone pillars after Anzac Day, is a memory from my childhood.
Welcome to my artist-in-home-residence virtual space. Doing a non-residency feels a bit weird, but these are unsual times that call for flexible, creative thinking and new approaches. Instead of being located in a gallery, I like so many others, am working from home, doing the same hours that I would have done in the gallery. With no gallery goers to stop by for a chat, I already find myself musing about various things that this projects evokes. Perhaps I’ll blog about some. I’m not sure right now. Who knows how this will unfold?
Anyway the actual theme remains the same. The story of a mother, my mother, as told by a daugther through her art. Like all personal stories, this one has wider meanings and relevance, otherwise why share it? It is a window to a period in Australia when there were massive changes in the way women led their lives, the roles that they undertook, and way they were portrayed. My mother’s story encapsulates this broader historical context.
In undertaking this creative project, I cannot escape my own context, the most obvious being the Covid-19 lockdown. Perhaps the distress and angst of this will come out in some of my work. Who can tell? There will surely be some light relief too, as mum had a lively sophisticated sense of humour. I still laugh inside when I think of the some of the jokes and funny moments we shared.
Certainly the way in which I concieved this has altered. No panels suspended from the ceilings for one thing, and no gallery exhibition on the Mother’s Day weekend. How exactly do you role out a virtual exhibition? Do the materials I planned to use lend themselves to being viewed on a screen? How do I link together individual posts? Is that necessary? I have no idea.
I did have an idea about mystery and puzzles. It was forming up even before the virus. Mum loved puzzles and solving problems. I wanted to incorporate that in the exhibition. So now each post will be a piece of the puzzle of her life, with clues, some obscure, some there for all to see. So here goes. I’m determined to find a way to keep going in these disruptive, uncertain circumstances.
“If necessity is the Mother of Invention, then adversity must surely be the Father of Re-invention.” Johnny FloraWhat to do: continue on with other work, or do an “as if” three week at home residency on the My Mother project? I don’t have an exhibition space for the pieces, let alone rafters at home to hang my two-sided panels, so a re-think is in order. In my mind, a virtual on-line exhibition slowly evolves. My Mother, and artistic journey re-invented.