The Maternal Stratum exhibition is one of the outcomes of the Develop Your Creative Practice grant I was awarded by Arts Council England, to research alternative printing processes which may allow me to begin working towards establishing a more sustainable and environmentally engaged creative practice. Throughout this research, situated in the landscape of my childhood and where I currently live with my own children, I have been primarily drawn to photography and its endless opportunities to play with light and surface, time and place, harnessing an alchemy of light-processing materials found within this environment. Along with making inks from plants, excavating clay from reservoirs, coal and ochre from local mines, I have also tried to confront the ubiquitous plastic spaces from the often inescapable toxic, consumerist culture that my children are exposed to. I view this work as the result of a practice embedded in where I dwell: a place of historical significance pertaining to the industrial revolution and subsequent ecological crisis. The alternative photographic processes I have been learning - such as soil chromatography, cyanotype and anthotype - serve as receptors for reconnecting with this landscape of the Anthropocene, both above and below the surface. The different works on display are fragments of newly discovered encounters with materials and entanglements within my immediate surroundings, sometimes transforming these into traces of voids that may appear. By illuminating this sense of loss that I experience with my children, my work hopes to open up a maternal dialogue about, what the Nigerian poet and writer Bayo Akomolafe describes as, becoming a 'citizen of grief' in the world.
This proiect and exhibition has been made possible through the DYCP grant awarded by Arts Council England. I would like to express gratitude to The Art House for their ongoing support, and the staff at The National Coal Mining Museum for valuable archive access and coal/ochre contributions.