WOMAN TO WOMAN
As the two of us have developed our artistic practices and acted as critical sounding boards, so our friendship has developed. This show is a celebration of that and an acknowledgement of us as two individuals and our support for each other.
We are women. We talk. We do that in the usual way, and we do that through our artistic practices. This is our conversation. It isn't linear. It didn't start with one thing and lead to another and then another. It is tangential, circuitous, circular, overlapping.
What do we talk about?
Being mothers, being women, being the keepers of family memories, being emotional supporters, being us.
Maybe it's because my first job was in the county Record Office that my interest in memory started. Certainly it influenced my regarding everything, from the banal to the significant as equally suitable for preservation. Or maybe it's because I am aware of blips in my own recollection, or maybe it springs from my research into how this fragile power – memory - works. Whatever the cause, an investigation into memory is at the heart of my practice. Anyway, I often choose to use wax as a medium, because of its contrary connotations of preservation and jeopardy (leave it next to a fire and it will melt).
V's quiet palette continues whatever her chosen medium – paper, felted wool, found objects – subtly expressing sometimes high emotion. She is my wisewoman, and her understanding and clear-sightedness into the human condition is evidenced in her work.
So you will see baby socks – the tiniest and strongest evocation of babyhood, blankets and comforters for and about babies and also for those undergoing the last unspoken taboo – menopause. Colours of a Certain Age is a set of books, stitched like samplers spelling out the word menopause in pink flushing to red, in silver, black, and in invisible thread. Three other sculptural bookworks depict the menopause as books with the sharpest, blackest nails sticking out (don't touch – prickly), or with an empty, gaping hole, or melting.
In The ties that bind series V uses her own, her daughter's, and her grand-daughter's hair to bind a soft, warm house, a tiny baby foot, a cocooning nest whereas I have left the ties invisible between tiny parents and children.
We have stitched. When I was ill V lent me a DVD about Louise Bourgeois, and when I was finally able to move a bit and could hold a needle I stitched a quote from that film – my emotions are bothersome . . . I have 'preserved' that same cloth in wax, as well as one of V's traycloths, a tablecloth (double exposure – a metaphor for this two handed exhibition) and a lace handkerchief. V's soft as soft sock blanket , soul warmer, is a beautiful subversion of a patchwork quilt, while her other large felt blanket, motherlove is at once comforting and shocking with its definitions of being born on the wrong side of the blanket.
The handkerchief has become a leitmotif for the exhibition. In the old mirror reflects everything V has photographs of three handkerchiefs, which in some way question the attitude of care homes to the elderly, and I have made translations into wax sculptures in my emotions are too big for me, each handkerchief the same but different alluding to how emotions can be so different.
News of my nephew posted to Afghanistan prompted V to make sculptural and bookworks. Her soft comforting felted wool made into haunting miniature body bags, and words taken from emails realised into elegantly simple books.
Emotions and their bothersomeness is the subject of two more bookworks – The twelve o'clock tales and amazing maze. And much more besides.
Jane Tudge , 2013