As a way of following my interest in feminist discourse, the body, and time, I started making films in juxtaposition to live performances from 1998. Here are some recent projects as well as some of my filmography.
Like a Ship Righting Itself (4 mins) was a new film made during lockdown in June 2020. The first film of a series of microfilms about women and mental health which uses an idiom, a domestic object and a story or text which are then ‘acted upon’ in a local landscape. They contain metaphors of survival and suggest that we can all be ‘makers of self ‘ through narrative re-structuring.
The second film Swept Under the Carpet, (3.5 mins) made in August 2020, features a writing and performance collaboration with Dr Marianne May and again follows themes of women, mental health and story telling.
Out with mother (3 minutes), shown on loop, Wolverhampton University, 2006
This film aims to create disturbing tensions and provoke questions about representations of mothers. Using the everyday yet evoking something hauntingly distressing, multiple images simultaneously show a mother out with her baby in a sling, a lonely figure on a beach and an almost invisible indexical shadow of a woman in a domestic space. These shadowy images are accompanied by a distorted sound loop of a child calling for his mother.
Worn Down, (2 mins), 2005-2006
This project recorded the daily use and disappearance of soap – the french brand ‘ the good mother’. By inferred intimate proximity to the body, the object performs in intimate relation to the the maternal body.
The soap was used and photographed every day (that I had time as a busy working single mother) and a montage made of its gradual disappearance. It was a self-evident metaphor for women who mother, and who are physically and metaphysically worn down.
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To The Lighthouse (and back) (10 minutes, silent), shown at Newlyn Gallery (2002), Wild Dog (2004)
With an atmosphere of apparent timelessness, the silence and slow motion of the camera (the author/subject/gaze) moves across the tiny figures at Godrevy, passing a young child, and settling on the image of Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse.
My work tries to deal with the unrepresentable; experimenting with various notions of presence and absence. Most of my work is based around the female body, and re-representation of the maternal. Referencing Woolf’s work, the repetition of the lighthouse image is one of ‘return’ – to the past, to the mother, and question the possibilities of her Subjectivity and entry into the symbolic.
Saints and Sinners, (3 mins), Barcelona, 2004 & REVOLVER, PZ Gallery, 2010
Juxtaposing footage of a mother begging in the streets and votive statues of the Virgin Mother in a festive, much visited church, the film visually draws out the ambivalences and contradictions of the institution of motherhood, which is at once denigrated and revered.
There is no escape it seems, from the iron bars (behind which the religious statues are housed) or the cars, which hide and frame the begging mother. These are metaphors for confinement, and the separation of idealized icons of maternity, with the lived reality of motherhood. The happy, upbeat festive music follows the camera to the effigies of the virgin birth.
SMEAR (2005) was a performance-film collaboration with Helen Battelley. They were 2 short films of 3 mins shot at home featuring Helen and messy substances as a metaphor for women’s lives. Exploring how women are ‘smeared’, and ‘tarred with the same brush’ of language, invisibly and confinement.
Wearing the Trousers makes the Baby Come (3 mins), 2002.
Lard is an interesting body-fat material used as a viscous metaphor. The film records a performance of coating the naked body with lard whilst recounting stories about maternal bodily experiences – babies, scars, stresses and lesions.
Telling the story of the lived experience of the maternal body through multiple readings and feminist-poetic text is an important way of representing maternal experiences.
Make Light Work (2002) parodied cultural narratives about women’s work as unimportant and shallow – or ‘light’. It aimed to create textual metaphors that visually and concretely contradict the notion of ‘lightness,’ and explore the darkness of motherhood.
I often work with time-based works in different media, creating a dialogue and relationship over time. Have a look at other significant performances that were made into film: