Remembering, Sculpture Installation, Guelph, ON, 2007
2007 was a milestone year for me. I graduated with honours from the University of Guelph with a Fine Art major and an Art History Minor. My husband and I sold our home of 16 years and moved to a condo in Guelph. For the first time, I had a full time painting practice and rented studio space to revel in. Our children were adults and more or less launched so there was a sense of freedom and expansion.
As I was working on my final projects which included this sculpture titled “Remembering”, there were a number of traumatic events very present for me including the 25th anniversary of my first born daughter, Renee’s death in 1982. Renee died in March and as it happened, most of the work on this project was done in the month of March – a perfect storm of grief and memory fueled the challenge of learning how to weld the cradle and craft 25 lanterns in her honour.
The cradle is empty of course but softened by the fragile handmade paper that stands in for the mattress that should have been there. The wispy fabric blew softly in the wind during the final critique echoing the feeling of a gently rocking cradle. Miraculously, all 25 candles stayed lit in their own shallow concave spaces.
Against the advice of my professors, the lantern I inadvertently chose to mold was a little on the large size to be managed easily – no bigger than a bread box was the criteria. This meant that the mold had to be continually coated with petroleum jelly and basically coddled through the more than 30 lanterns it took to get 25 “good ones”. It leaked every time a new lantern was poured and needed to be wrapped to avoid a mess. The act of caressing, pampering with kid gloves, and ultimately cradling each lantern began to feel very much like caring for an infant.
Most artist’s think of their work as their children but this process took it to a whole new level for me. I have to admit I shed more than tears of frustration throughout the process. It was also good to immerse myself in honouring my feelings of loss – to honour the reality of my experience as I also met the obligations of my study. Janet