It’s an alternative life style, being the carer of my now 23 year old son Edward! The one thing that becomes quite apparent when you have a child with a difference, is that your life will tread a very different path than that of your peers. Of course, no matter what our situation is in life, we all tread our own, unique path, however, years down the road, and journeying with those in a similar situation, has made me aware of similarities within our lives. We are always the parents of our children, but for those children that will never be able to ‘fly the nest’, that remain in constant need of great understanding and support, we the parents find ourselves in a land that is often hard to navigate. The dual title of mother/carer is one that can feel so weighted and complex, that at times it can feel too overwhelming.
A year ago, I decided that I wanted to create a body of work that somehow explores my experience of being mother to my brain damaged son. Edward became gravely ill when he was a few weeks old, although he survived, it left him with severe learning difficulties and autism. Living this sort of life is often a mixture of extreme highs and extreme lows. The highs can be the simplest of things, often bathed in gold. The lows, are the massive shadow side to all of this, Edward struggles immensely with understanding the world and what is expected of him. The world struggles to understand Edward. We struggle too. I could write reams on what our day to day reality is, and no doubt as well as being uplifting and funny, it would shock and upset. Along side this, there is the isolation. I have found the path I tread to be a lonely one, but also one of personal liberation too. Edward will always be my biggest teacher. He touches so many peoples lives, this I know from what people tell me. Those with intellectual disabilities are often the ones that remind us of our own humanness, this can be a gift, cutting through the unnecessary and often comic things we think we need and do. The ‘archetypal fool’ is the one that holds the wisdom.
The art work that has emerged over the past year has surprised me. It seemed to take me back to the early days of being a mother, holding the baby that was ‘changed’, and our lives changed forever. The path that lay ahead of me, was uncertain, and it still is. As parents, I think it is a slow process of realisation that being a parent of one with special needs, is perpetual. I guess this is why the work I have created is very much about mother and child attachment. ‘Mother and Child’ dominates the exhibition.