Stigmatised Bodies
Sally Butcher and Jess Timmis ‘follow drawing pleasure with our heads full of stigma thoughts’

This was taken from an earlier project idea, that is still to be fully realised. A wonderful day of exploration and collaboration, which will hopefully lead to more.

As artists educated in a pedagogy that fostered a sense of individualism, we have generally embraced independent creative practice. In light of the pandemic and new caring practices that are emerging in academic circles, we want to bring together our caring roles as (m)others into a more caring artistic practice, one that allows chance and (childlike) collaborative play. Having known each other for around fifteen years we have been brought together more recently within the world of maternal art and discovered our artistic trajectories share a similar theoretical underpinning. We are both driven by a visual curiosity in female subjectivity, influenced by our own autobiographical narratives. We share a mutual interest in feminist embodiment, theory that supports the processing of our lived experiences. We also both employ drawing as a practice, although through very different methods and processes (sometimes migrating into Jess’s soft sculpture or Sally’s photographic interpretations). We want to see how we can draw caring strands through our practice by working together in new ways. This has stemmed from Sally recently taking part in Jess’s online workshops; an open, sharing space where rich connective themes were revealed, that clearly warrant further exploration.

We want to focus this new work thematically on our respective experiences of living with “stigmatised” maternal bodies: Sally, a mother of two children conceived by IVF and Jess, a single mother of two. We plan to contextualise these lived experiences through theoretical texts, exploring them together through our own feminist reading sessions and then through visual investigation in our drawing practices. As mothers we have realised we don’t have enough time to play, to explore, to see what might happen, so we want to instigate a caring feminist process of sharing making space. We want to use imagination in relation to our practice, working alongside each other and together dynamically, whilst inhabiting two different bodies and giving space to our own herstories in an act of ‘imperfect’ collaboration. Outcomes from this project may vary from joint workshop facilitation to collaborative artworks. We will see where this performative play leads us…

Thank you to Sally for inviting me to do this work I absolutely loved it and hope we get to work together again soon. (Jess Timmis)

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