This painting stores many emotions and secrets, some of which even I can not recall. It has certainly been a journey painting it. THE BIG BABY, well that’s the name I have used when referring to this piece of work so far. Simply because that is what she is, big and you can't deny her presence, she draws you in and invites you to look closer. The words BIG BABY also raises many cogitations in ones mind, for example, "stop crying you big baby" a derogatory phrase used to mock for being immature, or a woman's fear of giving birth to a big baby could cause her to worry or to be concerned and fret about the delivery, maybe. Certainly if the baby was to be this big, it would cause a mother to worry! This oil painting measures 150cm to 100cm.
There are a few Big Baby entries in my journals where I consider my intentions and thought processes, many videos charting my progress and some promotional videos. I looked through these entries often, it has become part of my painting ritual, to reflect and centre myself back into that previous state of mind. I feel it is important to keep the continuity, because I can often put down a painting and pick it back up again months later. To continue flow and be back in a crucial state of being while painting, I tend to reflect through my journal entries to reconnect, so this is a practice I do often with most of my paintings. I started sketching my ideas back last summer while simultaneously looking into my personal birth story and trying to put the missing pieces together on where I was in the first few years of my life, more can be read about this in my previous blog post, Mother Mary However, what is fascinating to me is that I already have the answers, my mind and my body stores these missing years of mine within it. After all that is essentially what I am, a vassal, holding the life I have lived and am living within me. My body holds the trauma and my mind keeps the secrets, a forgotten part of myself that is a vital component of my identity. In this post I would like to consider the intentions with the butterfly and the stitching, both are symbolic and both bring their individual essence to the painting.
I painted the butterfly, whimsically, she posses a question, is she flying towards or away from the baby? She is multifaceted in that she looks like she is coming in to land, or is she flying off away, or is she attacking the baby? This remains unanswered. The butterfly embodies the fleeting, flutter of a whimsical moment, a moment not quite established, a moment short and sweet. She symbolises the attachment of a significant other, a bond for the baby to attach to, so that she can feel safe after her traumatic entrance into this world. This attachment should be all encompassing and nourishing, safe and warm. Although a butterfly is a beautiful creature, it holds no security for the newly born. A butterfly also represents the soul of our ancestry, the DNA that is past on to us from those that have lived before, the mitochondrial inheritance from our mothers and the very spirit of our souls is all within that painting of the whimsical butterfly.
A bit of biology - Mitochondria is found in several cells in the body and its job is to utilise the energy created from the food we eat. A part of very significant DNA that is entirely passed down to us from our mothers only. (my understanding from my reading on this subject)
The stitching was an agonising concept, the very thought of putting a needle through this painting made me feel uncomfortable and filled me with unease. But again, seemed essential to the piece. Sewing originates as far as 20,000 years back and was first used to sew animal skin together so that our ancestors could keep themselves warm. There is also a medical element to the stitching, a suture, stitching that holds the skin together. In this painting the stitching embodies the threads of her ancestry and societal restraints, the battle between the both. The baby maybe alone, abandoned, born into a hostile environment, there may not be a mother’s presence in the physical sense. Her mother is there within her babies flesh and blood, pumping life through her tiny veins, in the rhythmic beating of her heart and in her guttural cries as she clears the mucus out from her lungs, she is there. Because of this I have placed the stitching in poignant places on her body. The eyes and ears have a significance, relating to the skewed views that society had and often still do have towards illegitimate babies, the old laws that so desperately need updating or replacing are taking away the primal basic human rights from these babies. A right to know who their biological mother and biological father are, they should not be allowed to be anonymous to the baby they created. There are so many implications for the future of that baby’s life when this is the case, such as identity and abandonment challenges, hereditary health problems and mental health issues and the list goes on and on. That one area doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the challenges that society are creating for these babies born into these circumstances. There are so many flaws I could go into regarding this area alone and so few of these issues are still not ideally or respectfully addressed.
This baby in my painting did not see, hear or feel her mother’s touch or have the opportunity to regulate within the safe comforts of her mother’s breast. This brutality of her birth, where there were battles between her ancestral heritage and the society in which she was born into, or even just the very existence of her and the aftermath from it all, created a Frankenstein Baby. A baby patched up with so many missing parts and pieces. Social reforms, expectations and society laws are not necessarily there for the best welfare or interest of a baby that is about to be born into this kind of existence.
Big Baby will be at my solo exhibition What Has Love Got To Do With It Sock Gallery in Loughborough. Showing for six weeks only, a collection of reflective works exploring the significance of the harmonic unspoken language between mother and child, the complexities of early emotions and preverbal trauma. Where I begin to examine significant emotional flows that establish early childhood attachments. All work will be available to purchase.
As we grow inside another
Do we remember our lives,
Lives lived before we began again.
Lives lived from another rein.
Where we walked along familiar terrains
That were different to now.
As we grow inside another,
Before we surrender to this world,
Are we at a crossroads, cocooned.
In a limbo.
While we wait and grow,
we hear the sounds of a new world
Muffled to a rhythmic beat.
That chants and entices,
Intrigues and haunts us.
As our memory ebbs and flows
As we continue to grow.
Till we no longer fit in this limbo, we become too big.
We are birthed into a new world
And our other no longer exists. Please feel free to leave a comment
Thank you for reading