Artistically I am exploring the emotional response of a mother to war and the impact that war has on mothers and their children. My work uses the fragility of humanity and porcelain to contrast with the objects of war and the perpetuation of violence in the world.
High Fired Motherhood challenges the subliminal connections between motherhood, war and the ‘Cycle of Existence’. It exposes the human production line concept and uses the powerful metaphor of the expectant mother to explore the contradiction between creation and destruction and love and fear. It is a battle plan of mothers and their children poised amongst weapons of war.
My first ‘High Fired Series’ explored the difficulties I experienced as a mother accepting my son’s decision to follow his father’s and forebear’s footsteps in joining the Royal Australian Navy. I reflected on my German heritage, the stories my father told me about the Hitler Youth and my grandmother’s vivid recollections of fleeing a war-torn country with her children. This family history has become deeply intertwined with my reflections on our current world unrest and the anxiety I hold for future generations.
The title, ‘High Fired’ is derived from the making process of porcelain clay. The raw clay must be ‘high fired’ in the extreme heat of a kiln over 1300°c. to transform it into porcelain. Artillery shells need to be ‘fired high’ to hit a target at great distances.
I selected the artillery shell form because of its associations with my husband’s 20-year career and military duties which included training men and women in the use of small arms & missiles. This powerful and evocative form is simultaneously a weapon of destruction and also, counter-intuitively, a way to attain peace. This seeming contradiction emphasizes the destruction versus creation dichotomy I am interested in.
‘The juxtaposition of an image of an expectant mother with a weapon of destruction is unsettling. One symbolises the hope for the future and the giving of life, the other symbolises the destruction and taking of life.
In this new series titled ‘High Fired Motherhood’, I question whether mothers themselves have inadvertently become a part of the machinery of war. The birth of a new generation is a reminder of innocence, purity and the hope our children will never have to go to war. Yet the paradox is that wars are the thread that connects the generations, and each new generation embraces the objects of war in the same way as their predecessors.
Is this a perpetual cycle of existence? Are we responsible for a production line of humanity delivering an endless supply of the ‘tools’ of war? The ultimate sacrifice is our sons and daughters. This load weighs heavily on our backs.