Blogging as reflective practice
You are reading a blog that started off about art practice-based research charting
the journey of doing a phd. It explores alternative ways of using hand held devices
to create print-based interactive artworks using graphical tagging such as QR-codes.
Art, design, technology and craft were the main themes in writing. But life gets in the
way, and over this journey the story takes unexpected happy twists along the paths
of having a baby, going on a UK Digital Economy Sandpit, meeting fanstastic people,
and subsequent group success in funding for a large multidisciplinary research
project called TOTeM.
Entries in breastfeeding (1)
At the moment I’m working through ideas based on some audio I recorded during the first dark months that my baby was born. I guess I am giving a physical form to the digitalized audio at the moment, but it is all work in progress and more of an exploration of ideas. The work is based on my own experiences, and in reaction to the feelings of helplessness and frustration not being able to communicate with or soothe my son who groaned in pain for 6 hours a night for the first 6 months of his life (when we we found out what the matter was after months of being turned away by doctors convinced we were just over anxious new parents).
As a new mother who attended the NHS and NCT (National Childbirth Trust) antenatal classes, all her midwife appointments, and read the compulsory free Scottish NHS “Ready Steady Baby” book, there is so much pressure to do the “right thing” yet the information is so conflicting you no longer become sure of what is right. My doctor, the troop of health visitors that came through our flat, the midwives, the NCT and parenting “gurus” like Gina Ford, Tracy Hogg and Mirian Stoppard all have their views of things and each say the other is wrong and you will be damaging your child beyond repair if you don’t follow their advice. The only consistent between the lot of them is “breast is best” and I had so many physical problems actually even achieving this, that I felt I was a total failure because I can only feed from one side and have to top up with formula.
I don’t want to go down the path of feminist art because I feel that that can be too confrontational, and this is more about trying to share something else – the darkness, the isolation, the confusion, the exhaustion? The words aren’t here yet – that’s why I work in the studio – that’s how I find the words. I don’t feel the need to get on a hobby horse and be an activist in my art – I think my approach is more introspective and thoughtful. At the same time I also feel a bit shy of working in a subject area that is a reflection on the fact that I am female. I have spent most of my working life being in such male dominated areas, that I am fearful of wiping out half a potential audience to my work just because it deals with a subject area that I (hopefully wrongly) suspect makes men yawn and run away in boredom. Yet how awful for me, if I decided not to make work because I am scared men won’t like it. I can’t believe I even have such thoughts, but I do! I guess it comes from working as a designer and always trying to please the largest group of users, regardless of their gender.
Working with the tactility of print and augmenting it with audio (and perhaps other digital forms) is a good platform for the ideas I am trying to convey. I know I could have a series of prints in a gallery with audio being boomed around the space, but that does not convey the intimacy, closeness and capsule-like feeling of night after night after night of feeding a little helpless thing every 2 – 3 hrs. Until now I really understood “Life is Art, and Art is Life” but suddenly it all makes a whole lot more sense.