Above: painting of Judith Beheading Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi.
I'm compelled to make work about social injustice, patriarchy, study transformations and to seek beauty. There is not one narrative arc when we explore domestic crimes. Each person asks me to bear witness to their truth. It is a complex and hidden crime, and this visual narrative gives many people the space to reclaim their face or body. They ask us to confront their face and gaze, to pay attention to their trauma and survival, to note their resilience and vulnerability. A face opens the conversation, it is powerful. Some people are in places of transition and growth, we are all on a journey without a fixed destination, transitions are multi layered.
The work is political for we challenge the values of a society that tolerates violence and turns a blind eye. This is a crime that happens to your friends and in your street. Behind closed doors we call it "domestic abuse" to minimise it, yet if it happened outside of the home we would call it rape, assault, murder. We must recognise coercive control as a crime too. All of this darkness is hidden inside the home and transcends social class or ethnicity. It is an epidemic.
Below: old family photograph of my mother.
This work is not just my story, the aim is to look at an issue and promote debate and social change through art. I like to be embedded in a project and I work with people who are also survivors of trauma. Trauma is generational, at some point it must stop. In partnership with SafeLives, the national domestic abuse charity, and their Pioneers ( a grass roots group of women who help to form policy), I have a large team and mentors to shape the narrative, my childhood experience is merely my doorway in.
Each subject will be asked to collaborate in the telling of her story, to bring an "endowment object" that is meaningful to her/him. Behind them will be backdrops that are painted by artist Laura Noble of L.A. Noble Gallery, London. These collages will be multi layered. The narrative is woven into the cloth using traditionally women's crafts - from Agnes Richter to Tracy Emin, artists have used fabric, embroidery and colour to subvert.
Celia Peachy is a writer and activist. Her mother was murdered and she also turned to Eastern philosophy to seek healing. She is mentored by writer and critic Dominic Walsh, who worked with me on "You Brought Your Own Light".
Gaynor Stoddard brings the skills to sew the backdrops together and embroider them.
Many women are in too much danger to show their faces but have worked with me behind the scenes.