Marking the Land: Westwards
Imagine this: the Devon landscape, a path leading down to the sea, four cousins, three generations, walking together. Footsteps cross and re-cross as each follows her own thoughts and sees different treasures along the way. Sometimes we choose to stop and paint, to play, and sometimes we simply collect the seeds of ideas to be germinated later in the studio.
Our trio of artists embraces the spontaneous creativity of the fourth, a young child, inviting her to join in the creative conversation in her own way. In a practical sense this means that we make space for her creativity to flow together with our own – when she wants it to – and to take turns doing other things with her when she doesn’t.
My great-grandmother and great-grandfather were both good painters. The expectations of society meant that, although it was paid for by her pictures, the studio and the ‘professional career’ were his.
In my grandmother’s time, though women artists were beginning to be recognised, they were still expected to give up work time to raise the family. My grandmother said that painting was her fourth child.
More and more, it is possible for a mother to be an artist, but the work of raising a family is still seen as something that competes with the creative work. Now it is time, I feel, to change our perception, to see these not as rivals, but as different strands of creativity that can each enhance the other.
In order to shift our approach to include children, we must be flexible in our expectations. We can lay out possibilities and opportunities but also be ready to follow another way if that is how things take us. We need to shift the balance, taking turns to be the teacher.
While working for this exhibition I came across some circular canvases and hand-made circular paper. Always enchanted by circles I became interested in how using a round space totally changes the form and structure of a picture. Sometimes it feels like looking at the world through a porthole.