In celebrating contemporary painting for the 125 years anniversary of Newlyn Society of Artists Past, Present and Future exhibition, I was drawn to Elizabeth Forbes’ intimate domestic representations of mothers and children as my own work deals with representing the (often invisible) lived experience of women and motherhood.
Elizabeth Forbes was an exceptional woman artist and one of the founders of the Newlyn Society of Artists. Unusual for the time, she juggled being a wife with a professional life, setting up the Passmore Edwards building (now Newlyn Art Gallery), with children and painting.
It is interesting how we might now interpret her nostalgic and intimate paintings of care and childhood. I love the way she exalts humdrum activities. On the knife-edge of tropes of idolised motherhood I aim for a darker edge, filling my canvases with her figures, riffing on them with dripped bitumen paint, and letting new figures crowd onto the canvas through the process.
There is something idyllic and fairytale in capturing moments of idealised childhood and home life – and this is reflected in my use of colour. Yet such moments are fleeting, and often in-between the hellish activities of balancing work, mothering and caring.
My paintings pay homage to Elizabeth Forbes whilst working against ideality through a gin alley chaos that satisfies my enquiry into darker representations of domesticity, asking questions about our common experience of childcare, mental health and societal value.
Newlyn Society of Artists ‘Past, Present & Future show will be at the Tremenheere Gallery from 11th October. More details