On listening to our children, blood, and letting go, 2019
When pregnant with my third child, I was making a lot of art, feeling very inspired but perhaps also slightly conflicted that I had never pursued a more conventional academic career. At this point in my life, my eldest child, my daughter Frida, helped me to experience a kind of revelation. She had just started school, and we would pass a café on the way to and from school every day. After some months had gone by and we had become really friendly with the lady who ran the café, the lady asked me the question that I always dreaded: ‘what is it that you do Rebecca?’ I did my usual long pause, and I was just about to start the ‘oh well, I write, umm, I have a PhD in Art History, but I have always made my own work, blah blah. . .’, but luckily on this memorable occasion the pause gave my daughter the time to say, ‘My Mummy is an artist’.
I had never said this to Frida; she had decided, age 5, entirely on her own, that I was an ‘artist’. I now never doubt that this is what I am. I felt a great new surge of solidified identity that had been entirely supported by my children. With newfound vigour and confidence, I continued to make a lot of images with blood, and also pomegranate juice. Both materials help me to relinquish control and allow the marks to form without focusing on a finished result...
...It has been a joy and pleasure to discover and explore the work of Madge Gill and Lucihita Hurtado through each of their solo exhibitions this year (Gill at The William Morris Gallery and Hurtado at The Serpentine). Neither of these artists sought recognition. Having said this, they were/are ambitious artists, both intensely serious about their work and both interestingly entwined in the art world. Still, they never prioritised self-promotion over actually working and living a life in tune, one might even say, in conversation with the earth. Some may find it a jarring contrast that an ‘ambitious’ person does not seek recognition. This is because the only person helpful to measure up to, is yourself—and perhaps more accurately, yourself as a child. Thus the main aspiration is not to be ‘seen’ by the public, but rather to ‘see’ the self. This way, the ego does not overdevelop and you continue to grow, learn, and give, in a reciprocal relationship with life received and cherished as a gift.