M/Utter

2002 Crossing Time Festival, Dartington Hall

Engaging with discourses surrounding the maternal body and exploring female lived experience of the condition of motherhood. Objects were used for symbolic values. They included a newspaper article about ‘super-women’, buckets of seawater, mirrors, granite ‘egg’ stones, a wheelbarrow and a copy of the Mona Lisa.

Subsequent description:

I had given myself a ridiculous set of tasks (mostly involving filling a wheelbarrow with a number of items: symbolic and mostly heavy), with my legs tied with bags of seawater. The intention was that the actions should be accompanied appropriately to the title of the piece with a low, incessant mutter. I remember now the raw burning sensation as the bags leaked and the dried leaving a harsh, salty residue on the floor. Crawling around became really painful, my thighs burning with the friction, and I started to move more slowly, and slower still, with the muttering becoming moans and maybe the odd curse. Yet once I had completed the task of filling the wheelbarrow I felt a surge of new energy (not just because a long performance – I can’t remember how many hours it was- was coming to an end) but I remember being filled with a red raw thread of anger that built as I tried to manouevre the wheelbarrow out of all of the doors of the building.

Furiously I remembered all those years of trying to manoeuvre pushchairs and children with no reaction from passers-by, except in judgement and disapproval (I had had three  young children by the time I was 26). Pushing forcing, breaking my way out, I had only planned to leave the building, calmly take all my performance objects with me, and put them away. Suddenly rage took hold of me and I dashed for the door (as fast as I could with a very unwieldy wheelbarrow) and crashed into it, with supernatural strength fueled by the sudden fury I felt, I lifted up the wheelbarrow and crashed the contents on the steps of the building. Luckily there was no-one outside to get hurt, as the mirrors shattered, the buckets clattered, and the small boulders bounced heavily all the way down the steps. I do not remember clearing it up.