This show - The Divided Heart, takes its name from a written work by Rachel Power*. Power’s work is a collection of interviews with creative professionals who are also mothers. It reveals the various ways that artists navigate a balance between the two things they treasure most in this world: their ability to create and their families. I must re-iterate that both these precious entities would have a woman's undivided attention...
Throughout the preparation for The Divided Heart I discovered that we each experienced the relationship between motherhood and creativity differently. For some of us the act of nurturing infuses and informs our work: weaving itself into the themes. For some of us the practice of art is a melancholy, solitary experience that counters and restocks the part of our self that enfolds and offers to others.
For me, one cannot be without the other. The best mother I can be is the one who has been creatively challenged: and the best artist I can be is the one who has experienced the depths of humanity that a family takes you to. And yet the experiences are quite separate; my creativity requires solitude and family is about everything I crave after I have been alone.
Here is a bit about each of us:
Amy Jenkin is one of the most talented people I know. She is also one of the most practical... and complex. She infuses her practicality with such exquisite feeling, beautiful imagery and rich stories... and such immense love for her family and friends. Here is a picture of one of her pieces from 'The Journey Series'.
Petra Timmermann has aesthetic running through her veins - though she will swear that she doesn't. I hope she doesn't mind me saying but she was so full of doubt about this body of work. Now, looking back at the initial ideas, I can see that she realised exactly what she had conceived from the beginning. Her photographs are constructed from her imagination and as a good photographer does... she makes the opportunities happen.
I met Claire Le May only a couple of years ago and I have become such an admirer. Her work seems to me to be such a natural extension of her self. It documents the loving moments shared within a family but does so with such a honesty and daring and quirk. Shown here is her wax 'kisses' included in the show- and her sand sculptures which form part of her process for the show and lasted only until the tide took them.
Megan Paterson is a dear old friend with whom I have always been able to share the arts. When she posted this self portrait on instagram - I knew she would be an important part of this show. Her photographs feel the world around her which, for the moment, is strange. She is a new mother living in a foreign country; exploring and observing and making pictures.
And me: I wanted to use this opportunity outside of the commercial gallery space, to experiment with sculpture... and I ended up with a video. 'The Waves' is about textures and perpetual motion. Swimming in the ocean I feel alive: I feel overwhelmed, alongside a sense of joy. Motherhood is like this - it takes my energy and generates it at the same time.
And this is us Amy Jenkin, Me, Petra Timmermann and Claire Le May (missing Megan Paterson who was somewhere over the Pacific at this moment) ... we are old friends and new friends and artists and mothers... and boy, did we enjoy that vino on opening night!