installation view, west wall | The Chapel Gallery, Bracebridge, ON
without A mixed media meditation on motherhood, memory and missing by artist Miranda Britton in memory of her mother, Joan.
The Chapel Gallery Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada April 25 to May 23, 2015
cover image: detail of â€˜The Memory of You Cannot be Containedâ€™
While I wholeheartedly believe that art should speak for itself, I also feel that a little bit of background into process and artistic choices serves to deepen the experience of a piece. With that in mind, I have prepared some notes to accompany this exhibition. - Miranda
All images and text ÂŠ Miranda Britton 2015 Exhibition photography by Scott Turnbull
installation view, northeast corner
One of the stories from my momâ€™s childhood that really stuck with me was her experience of Hurricane Hazel in Toronto in 1954. She was 13 years old at the time and often recounted the story of helping a woman who had slipped into a ditch that had filled with rushing water. The background image is a transfer from an archival photo from the hurricane and the image in the foreground is my mom on her bike.
Hurricane | 48â€? x 36â€? | encaustic, photographic transfer on wood panel
My momâ€™s beliefs about time, space, death and past lives were not necessarily conventional. This piece makes reference to the notion of purgatory or limbo.
The Place In Between | 26â€? in diameter | rusted wheel, string, lace
After my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia in early 2002, there was much speculation as to what caused the disease. This piece makes reference to the foot xray machines that were commonplace in shoe stores in the 1950â€™s (as a means of measuring feet) that my mom half-jokingly blamed for her illness.
Retracing Your (Cells’) Steps | 24” x 36” encaustic, photographic transfer on wood panel
This piece is a version of the traditional Broken Dishes quilt pattern and was created using pages from my momâ€™s old gardening and art magazines as well as a few pages from my momâ€™s blood count reports.
Falling To Pieces I | 16” x 16” | paper, acrylic on wood panel
A partner to Falling to Pieces I, this piece is made entirely from cut up pieces of the endless blood count reports that were faxed to my parents following my momâ€™s weekly blood tests. Schedules were planned around these reports. If her counts were low, a transfusion would need to be coordinated and eventually, after 3 Â˝ years living with the disease, my mom could predict what her counts would be based on how she was feeling.
Falling to Pieces II | 16” x 16” | paper, acrylic on wood panel
installation view, north wall
A note about talismans: A talisman is an object which has been charged with magical or sacramental properties by its creator. Unlike the slightly more generic amulet, a talisman is always made for a specific purpose. For this exhibition, I have created three talismans for my mom and three for myself. They were each made in recognition of important traits or elements that I feel my mom and I have called upon at different points in our lives.
As a talisman, Pyrite is a unique protector, drawing energy from the Earth through the physical body and into the aura creating a defensive shield against negative energies, environmental pollutants, emotional attack and physical harm.
Talisman for Joan: Strength | pyrite, oxidized sterling silver
This piece is made up of many, many layers of paint and photographic transfers. Embedded in these layers are images of my mom and I, as well as a reproduction of a self portrait of French painter Madame Vigee-Lebrun and her daughter. My mom had a framed print of this painting in her room, and I now have it hanging in my room. A quilt is a series of repeated shapes, but the edges of this quilt are not perfect, alluding to both the repetition and imperfection of parenting.
The Patchwork of Motherhood | 36” x 48” | encaustic, transfers, paper, wood panel
My mom always put others before herself, even at the height of her illness. As a child, I was horse crazy – competing in horse shows most weekends, going to the barn every night. It wasn’t revealed to me until much later (strangely through answering the question “What is something most people don’t know about you?” on a quiz), that my mom actually didn’t like horses, hence the horsehair.
Talisman for Joan: Selflessness | oxidized sterling silver, brass, horsehair
installation view, north west corner
Aesthetically, this piece is based on microscopic images of Leukemia cells amongst healthy cells. The title refers to my momâ€™s frustration with not being able to look after her extensive gardens as her disease progressed. The fabric in the piece came (mostly) from my momâ€™s stockpiles.
The Weeds Are Taking Over | 48” x 36” | wood shadowbox, acrylic, fabric, thread
Aquamarine is considered to be calming, soothing, and cleansing. It is said to inspire truth, trust and letting go. In ancient lore, Aquamarine was believed to be the treasure of mermaids, and was used by sailors as a talisman of good luck, fearlessness and protection.
Talisman for Joan: Acceptance | aquamarine, sterling silver
installation view, west wall
These four pieces reflect the progression of Leukemia within my momâ€™s body throughout the duration of her illness from 2002, when she was diagnosed, to 2005, when she died. Each of these four pieces was created from a painted pine board that has been partially eaten away by carpenter ants and a geometric pattern of string and nails in increasingly darkening tones that mirror the human body.
Progression 2002 - 2005 | 12” x 36” | salvaged pine, acryclic, thread, nails
This piece refers to a conversation that I had with my mom about past lives and how the knowledge and experiences from a past life can bleed through into oneâ€™s current existence. Contained within a shadowbox, this piece was created from fabric, including a floral fabric from an old duvet cover that my mom and I made when I was a teenager. The images, which are printed on paper and then dipped in encaustic medium, are my momâ€™s face (from her university graduation photo) and parts of a historical painting of Joan of Arc.
Joan of Arc | 48” x 48” | wood shadowbox, acrylic, fabric, thread, paper, encaustic medium
installation view, southwest corner
After my mom died, I was tasked with emptying her closet. The fabric in this piece is from one of her shirts.
Talisman for Miranda: Memory | cotton, oxidized sterling silver
The title of this piece refers to a conversation that I had with my husband right after my mom died. The circular elements are drawings my mom did while she and I were on vacation in Costa Rica and the organic material is a deconstructed birdâ€™s nest. The tally on the right is a count of the number of days from when my mom was first admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital until the day she died.
I’m Afraid Nothing Will Be The Same | 48” x 24” | encaustic, paper, bird nest, transfer on wood panel
I created a silver spoon in honour of each of the years that I shared with my mom. The spoons are representative of the care and nurturing that mothers provide and the seeds are a symbol of knowledge that is passed down from parent to child.
You Planted Seeds For 27 Years hand fabricated sterling silver spoons, seeds (above: detail | left: installation view)
installation view, south wall
Jaspers are extremely nurturing stones, sustaining and supporting during times of stress and bringing feelings of peace and â€˜wholenessâ€™. In addition, Picasso Jasper is said to promote the development of creativity and to bring strength and self-discipline. It is thought to bring calm to difficult situations and to encourage us to relax and enjoy life.
Talisman for Miranda: Bravery | picasso jasper, copper, oxidized sterling silver
This was originally my momâ€™s dresser and I also used it for many years. It has been sitting unused in my dadâ€™s barn for over a decade now, but it still holds very strong memories of my mom for me. The little memory pendants, strung throughout the strands of yarn that run from the dresser drawers up to the ceiling of the gallery, are symbolic of the memories of my mom that come (the bumps) and go (the holes) with time. Following the exhibition, the individual pendants that have been purchased will be strung on silver chains and sent out into the world. On the dresser sits a hand fabricated sterling silver comb.This is just one of the many everyday objects that remind me of my mom.
The Memory of You Cannot Be Contained dresser, yarn, oxidized sterling silver pendants, hand fabricated silver comb (left and top right: installation views, middle right: detail of memory pendants, bottom right: hand fabricated sterling silver comb that sits on the dresser)
Rose Quartz carries a feminine energy of compassion and peace, tenderness and healing, nourishment and comfort. It speaks directly to the Heart Chakra, dissolving emotional wounds, fears and resentments and helping to develop a closer bond with family and friends. This piece was made to honour the many strong women in my life who have helped to fill the void.
Talisman for Miranda: Friendship | oxidized sterling silver, rose quartz
installation view, southeast corner
These two pieces are about continuity. The first is me “doing” my mom’s hair, while the second is my daughter, Mercy returning the favour.
Reciprocation I and II | 24” x 24” | encaustic, thread, paper, transfer on wood panel
My mom was an incredible gardener and the spring, with the return of life to the garden, always reminds me of her.
April Showers | hand fabricated sterling silver pendants (installation view, pendants pictured from left to right: petunia, rose, allium, tulip, daisy, anemone, verbena)
Miranda Britton is an artist and jeweller living and working in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. www.mirandabritton.com
A mixed media meditation on motherhood, memory and missing by artist, Miranda Britton.