I paint figurative representations of motherhood, pregnancy, and identity in oils.
My work is shaped by experiences of poverty, overwhelm, isolation and social judgement, from memories as a young mother, and as an older mother whose children have left home, both times of huge identity shift.
I aim to question how art and society privilege the cliché of an idealised role of motherhood by showing the repression of self that women undergo when they become pregnant and raise a family in a patriarchal society constructed on class rules.
I feel that the materiality of paint can be harnessed for emotive power and storytelling. Within the story of each painting, I work on ‘active’ areas using impasto, coloured lines for emphasis, and in quieter areas, let the image disappear into drips in places to become more intangible. It is an evolving and exploratory process where experiments with colour and mark making can steer my direction.
For structure, I use initial compositional sketches, collage, and maquettes to plan multi-figure layouts thinking about traditional compositional schemata and how I can subtly subvert these. Sometimes I reference objects made as preparatory work to emphasise how we construct a ‘reality’ which is subjective to us.
I am interested in distortions of the human form, particularly hands, that I feel have great potential energy. It is important to me to depict how society works to distort us and place us into assigned roles (including motherhood), how it isolates us, and how it acts to correct us if we deviate from the norms. In this sense I feel ‘suburbia/society’ becomes a character in my paintings, watching over us.
The perceived role and representation of motherhood can limit the choices available for self-expression and self-actualisation. To give back power, the individual voice matters, and I want to share mine.
Kristin Rawcliffe: MA Fine Art
University of Reading
PO Box 217