Initiation: The Ages of Woman

I am working on Definitive Practice for the MA Contemporary Fine Art at Salford University. This is the final part of my Master’s degree which by the time I finish will have taken 3 years. I took a leave of absence through the several lockdowns of the last year as I am homeschooling my children as well as working as a teacher two days a week. This enabled me to slowly work with my final piece over a longer period of time punctuated by the rhythms of this new pandemic life. On the plus side I have a studio at home where I could set everything up, use the space whenever I could and leave everything out. On the negative side it has been a time interrupted and lengthened. This has been an organic process really as it’s been a case of adapt and survive.

My proposal for the final definitive practice is to explore the Ages of Woman through the triune lens of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Going right back to the start in a re-visioning, a contemporising yet referencing pre-Christian, pre-patriarchy, folkloric, mythological concepts and symbols both personal and universal. Facilitating an intuitive response and alchemical development, creating my own mythopoeic language.

Who are we? What are the Ages of Woman now and their deeper significance and links? When do our initiations through time and a sense of being occur? What are our significant phases of growth? Where do we perceive our evolving place in the world to be? How do we counter the lasting effects of  Patriarchy and honour our process, retell our story? Can our changing role and state be mapped and connected with something more eternal and universal? How can these questions be explored and expressed through this work?

My final work has developed from creating a huge concept scroll of my practice on this MA. I traced my process to this point: I used elements of paint and print imbued and influenced by interconnectedness, perception, time, cycles, crows, feminism, philosophy, archetypes, dreams, symbolism, otherness and magical realism. I have come to a point where I am reviewing the bigger picture and re-visioning the life cycle or Ages of Woman.

This has stemmed from MA work on the concept of motherhood, grief, memory and experience and has broadened though tutor conversations to embark on a creative journey exploring the Ages of Woman. The lens has widened to not only include my own experience of this lifecycle and those around conversations with other women but to also consider epochs, art and movements such as the persecution of witches, the suffragettes, feminism, woman’s protest and #metoo. I aim to draw upon and reinterpret our rich heritage, memory and a personal archive of historical photographs from Greenham Common.

Here are some gestural beginnings stemming from releasing the canvas from the tyranny of the frame and working in the expanded field ( in my kitchen!)

Unstretched canvas in the kitchen
Paint tubes straight o to the canvas
Gestural beginnings with knives
Moving into the studio
Composition emerging from chaos
Working stood on a stool in the morning
Sat down in the afternoon

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