‘From Donald Winnicott to the naughty step’ was broadcasting as I drove home last night from meeting up with a group of friends I hadn’t seen in a while. The night sky was still light so it was a lovely spring evening drive back and I found this fascinating and felt in total agreement with what was being discussed. “Seventy years ago the psychoanalyst and parenting expert Donald Winnicott first broadcast his idea of the ‘good-enough mother’; the mother who wasn’t perfect and was free, to some extent, to fail. From 1943-1962 he gave some 50 BBC broadcasts. Aimed directly at mothers, they had a profound impact on popular ideas about motherhood.”
In tandem I was thinking about writing about the progress that was being made for the pieces for the solo exhibition as part of the FIRST@108 award. Up until now I have mostly written about finished works and only occasionally the process but actually now there is a need to document the process running up to the exhibition in October. The first piece for the solo exhibition is a reoccurring theme both in colour and subject, as are the discussions like the one I was hearing on the radio about;
Mother and Child
Winnicott’s ideas seemed to fit perfectly with this piece, “the idea of the body as important and needing to be taking seriously in bodily complaint but also the part the mind has to play in organising those or influencing them or producing them.” In the sculpture we see the mother in pink but if we look closer there is a subtle difference between the ‘body’ and the ‘mind’. The mother is facing the child, the indicators of eyes from the tiny holes suggest visual contact. So important in seeing the child from a psychological point of view as well as a bodily and physiological one.
It is one of the reasons I find it so easy to write about the sculptures my husband makes, in that they visual pictorial observations of human society, the human condition. Winntcott observed and was alert to the tiny signals, observation and listening to mothers and he documented this. It was almost mesmerizing listening to his strange dictation played back and it connects so well with this sculpture.
He spoke of the child being separated from the mother, “you are always an isolate, by the time he is born he has had experience both pleasant and unpleasant” which is visualised in this sculpture. The baby separated visually, literally from the mother yet fitting like a puzzle into one shape.. I can see this but I also think in the first three years there is a slow physical and mental detachment from the mother in to the ‘world’. The child in this piece also looks like a step, the naughty step we so often here spoken of today. Winnicott tells mothers to trust their instincts and I think in general I do. In some ways it is the only thing I am fully impassioned and feel confident about. It irritates me when that is thrown off-balance. That can so easily happen in today’s society where we have all kinds of information and view points being bombarded at us. The questions are the same now as to the time he was speaking, and we seem to be in a constant battle between those very strict methods and ideology a pose to more gentle approaches which I would class his as.
There are lots of mothers out there writing about motherhood and here are three I picked out of a bunch;
I do think we live in a society which down plays the importance of the role of the mother. We seem to focus on the wrong aspects. I would highly recommend listening to the programme and see what you think. Either way, it is one of those subjects which is going to be endlessly discussed and analysed. Some people write about it, some people analyse it and some people depict it. This one is to be polish and put aside ready for exhibition in October.