These six drypoint prints on canvas were shown at Little Buckland Gallery 5 March - 3 April 2016. They were made in response to the exhibition title 'Family Values'. They explore domestic abuse within the family and attempt to make the invisible visible. Each piece was made using drypoint etching, monoprint, acrylic and collage on canvas. Each piece is 102x128cm. The following text was displayed with the six prints.
This is an account from an adult survivor of childhood experiences of domestic abuse:
"From my earliest memories until I left my childhood home at aged 18 yrs I was in a constant state of fear and anxiety. My father had regular outbursts of rage and anger in which he totally lost control. At the age of four I villigantly stayed awake listening to every sound from downstairs. I was listening for signs of an escalating row. Was that a door slamming? A fist on the table? My heart would beat fast and I would get myself ready to slip out of the house, up the lane, to the phone box. I was the only person who knew what was going on, it was up to me to get help. So from the age of four I became my mothers protector and never allowed myself to sleep until both parents had gone to bed.
I studied hard to go to university and by the time I was 17 yrs I was feeling less and less safe in the family home and was desperate to leave."
Domestic abuse is widespread but often not seen or witnessed, apart from by those involved. Fear of the consequences or feelings of betrayal can prevent victims from speaking out. Lives can literally be devastated before they have begun. Members of a family can live in fear of violence even if the violence never happens, but is threatened.
It is common for survivors of domestic abuse, even when removed from the situation to experience PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). This can be in the form of flashbacks, panic attacks, depression, eating problems and drug and alcohol abuse. Normally PTSD is associated with soldiers returning from war. As a society we accept that the extreme experiences and atrocities of war could have such an effect on a person.
However, because so much trauma in the family is less visible and happens behind closed doors, it can be surprising to learn that a child in the family across the road, is being exposed to trauma, as intense and overwhelming as the soldier's experiences on the battlefield.
Who are these families? Who are these people? They are teachers, cab drivers, artists, bank managers, lawyers, cleaners, librarians. They are everywhere. They are your best friend, your best friends partner, your hairdresser, your partner, yourself..?
Mummy and Daddy
You will feel the back
of my hand
Do animals have souls?
This piece was made from multiple editions of dry point etchings arranged to overlap in descending order of size from foreground to background.
Each individual piece was a monochrome print from a drawing of a meat cleaver.
I experimented with overlapping and collaging them.
In 2013 there were mentions of the meat cleaver in the media after terrorist attacks in the UK.It holds particular connotations of violence and extremism in the present day. However, it is also a standard implement for butchery.
There seem to be historical discussions in both Islam and Christianity as to the role and status of animals in a society. In their respective sacred texts there seems to be at some point a view that animals were here to be used and eaten by mankind. If they had souls they were not the same as humans as their souls lacked the spiritual element.
Later, science declared that animals nervous systems were not as complex as humans and therefore didn't feel pain as acutely.
These attitudes led to the objectifying and commodifying of animals in both animal experiments and factory farming. Unwanted animals could be 'despatched'. All animals could be bred and slaughtered for meat.Today many millions of animals endure impoverished existences as part of the factory farming process where profit comes before compassion.
Experimental pieces arranged in collage to evoke cows coming into the farm or abattoir. A sense of being herded and grouped together for mechanised slaughter and meat processing.
'Do Animals Have Souls' dry point etching, multiple collage transparencies. 90x85cm
Exhibited: March 2013 GPC Impress 13 International Print Festival. Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham