Self assessment: Deborah Last 703
Aims and objectives (shortened version) from my proposal
• To investigate memory painting as a tool for image making
• To explore the key moments of birth and death
• To extend and challenge my painting practice through techniques and display
• To explore ways to bring some form of taxonomy to the collection of memories.
• I am working from an existing practice of painting from memory and I want to work towards a practice that is increasingly about the moment or happening, not as a recorded event but as an instance, a feeling, a happening connected at times to other happenings.
• My key focus will be the beginning and the end of life.
• Working with new surfaces and differing scales and materials I wish to fine tune my painting practice, particularly working with slippery and smooth surfaces. I am keen to keep my practice away from over consumption and toxic materials
• In a recent writing assignment we were asked to explore a taxonomy in which to display an object. This task captured my imagination and I have begun to expand the task. As we could invent our own taxonomy and exhibition/museum space I have begun to explore the idea of a “museum of memory”.
This past term I have had plenty of reason to investigate memories as we have watched my husband’s father come to the end of his life. His death on Christmas Eve meant that we were with our two daughters when we heard of his passing and then our son arrived soon after. The Christmas became more poignantly about family and very much about remembering. There has been a very strong connection to memories that could be described as “the last time I saw you” and “the first time I saw you” and there are plenty of images for exploration around this. I have understandably not been holed up in my studio as much as I might have been over the last few weeks.
However I have begun to investigate the box of slides and for the first time actually had the facility to view them on a projector. What came to light were images that had not been seen by anyone for many years. I have begun exploring the mothers within the family alongside my own mothering experience. Both of our parents did not have children easily. There are stories and images around this that I have begun to explore.
The box of slides also presents a way to store images and make my own “slides”.
I do feel exited about this work and though I have not explored as much as I’d hoped by this point I am raring to get going again. I think there is a lot of investigation around family connections and the journey I myself had into and through motherhood. This has inevitably been influenced and affected by the mothers within my own family. In making the slides I have wanted to make them “fleshy”. One of the comments at my critique was that it felt as if I had imposed my birth experience on the slide box, painting wombs and foetuses. The newly painted slides are about the wetness and fleshy nature of birth and birthing. They are about fluids and cells, DNA within being passed on or not. I am really enjoying exploring this and feel these are really successful. I am hoping to have time to develop these images further and in different media.
The box of slides still feels like it is the index box to my bricolage and as I work through these other, bigger works seem possible, seem to be born out of these discoveries and ideas. Viewing the slides for the first time the absence of both Pete’s birth mother and adoptive mother felt weighty and important, prompting me to paint a fairly tight image titled “The boy with two lost mothers”. I will explore this image further: the initial image being the springboard I hope for more expressive pieces.
I am enjoying making creative connections beyond the University. Curating the exhibition Coast for an arts for life project in Musgrove Hospital has opened up connections to other artists. The title was set before I changed my working focus which is causing a bit of a disconnect for me within this project though I set the titles myself. I’m enjoying the collaboration with the other artists and will produce work that can fit into this exhibition.
Continue to develop these ideas and prioritise my work more having had a fairly long stretch of time when that has not been so possible. To develop works around family responses to Motherhood described through joy and loss. To see this through my own experience and that of other family members through a variety of media and to investigate recording the moments when the slides are viewed. I wish to continue to make connections and collaborations within my practice that have a more seamless connection to my current work.