‘Never Stay Still’ 2018 is a live performance and photographed work, collaborating with contemporary art photographer Thierry Bal, vinyl graphic designer Danny Thomas and initiated by Amy Dignam and Susan Merrick of Mother Artists & Public Takeover DAW.
The performance took place in and around Parliament Square, London on Tuesday 8th May and launched alongside the collective Artist Mothers participating in Bank, London- via the live Mother Artist Takeover which happened Friday 11th May 2018. It was documented and shared on social media. (See hashtags below for the umberellas of the art concept.)
My decision to choose Parliament Square to execute this work, was because of the recent unveiling of the Millicent Fawcett statue 2 weeks ago which was campaigned for by Caroline Criado Perez and made by artist Gillian Wearing-, hugely successful and remarkable…
Fawcett was a British feminist, intellectual, political leader, activist and writer. She is primarily known for her work as a campaigner for women’s suffrage and considered instrumental in gaining the vote for six million British women over 30 years old in 1918 (as occurred with the Representation of the People Act 1918.)
I was able to witness this amazing and historic event whilst campaigning with Frances Scott and team of 50:50 Parliament – a group of women campaigning for more women to stand as MPs in Parliament because of gender imbalance.
The occasion then created a great platform for me to respond to Amy’s and Susan’s artistic initiative, to voice a lack of mothers being recognised not just in society but in this case, in the art world, as well as to highlight the existing gender pay gap and the ways that mothers can often be overlooked.
My whole take on this is that as much as there ought to be more women statues or even mother/artist statues, the truth is ironic because, statues themselves can blend into their surroundings, can go unnoticed and can often be regarded as almost invisible in the general public’s view. Unless you have the instance such as Antony Gormley’s ‘One And Other’ living monument fourth plinth initiative in Trafalgar Square from 2009 which was slightly controversial but, equally an outstanding project!
On 6 particular sites in and around Parliament Square I attempted to stand still with the black out curtain lining over my head saying ‘DO NOT UNVEIL, THIS MOTHER WILL NEVER STAY STILL.’ After a few minutes, the draped veil was then folded and packed into my bag and the act repeated.
Thierry’s approach entailed capturing my interventions at the site, amongst the public discreetly – including the site and atmosphere, as well as the gaze/reaction of the public and people likely to dismiss my work as they walk past. It was interesting to find out what areas of Parliament Square were permissible or not for this act to take place as the security guard politely informed me 😉
I learnt it was essential for artist and photographer to have a mutual dialogue in working the processes out for the capture. In a way, problem solving and discerning throughout the live moment how things would unravel while leaving room for the ‘surprise/unexpected’ were elements that were considered well.
For about an hour, it was an intriguing thing to hide under the fabric at various parts of the square, just a bit like playing hide and seek with my kids, except here it’s in the live. It really gave me insight on how it is quite nice to try to stay still for a bit, but eventually one could get tired of standing still holding a large piece of fabric in the air.
Personally as much as mums would make good statues, they wouldn’t really want to I suppose- as more often than not, we just love to keep busy, being busy bees – generally on auto pilot, that is unless there’s an offer for a cuppa and chance for a good chinwag.
This project opportunity has helped me to understand my role better as an artist mum both individually and collectively with respect to how other mums and I, offer significant contributions to raising our kids and the ripple effect that has to our surrounding environments and where that stands in making history.
Raquel is artist/author/art-repreneur mum of 2, whose kids are aged 7 and 5 and currently lives in Birmingham-, she works around the UK and abroad.
All photo credits: Thierry Bal
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