Sunday, May 12, 2013

Shall We Celebrate The 'Bad' Mother? (repost from 5/12/12)

It's the day before another 'taken-over-by-Hallmark' holiday - Mother's Day -  and I'm wondering if this goes across our world or is it just a 'North American' thing - but after going to that social network icon: Facebook this morning, (the ritual of coffee and pc that mornings have become) and reading all the posts praising the poster's mothers to the skies; I was left wondering : "What about those 'Bad Mothers' ?"
I have posted about my troubled and often brutal childhood with my own mother  and my book "The Other Side Of The Canvas" describes how many of my paintings were influenced by this tortured relationship, so we don't need to flog that horse any more. But I'm not the only person on this planet to have had a 'bad mother' and how do we honour this day? Well, perhaps 'honour' isn't quite the right choice of verb but you catch my drift. I am bouncing about in feeling an anger because I didn't get that kind of life ( yeah yeah, petty I know but I'm aiming for honest disclosure) and the other part that really forgives her and realizes that all that crap gave me this huge gift of painting the story - it all goes into the canvas - and recognizing her for that.  
And speaking of mothers : how about the Mothers who never became one? How about the Mothers who died in childbirth and are unknown to their children? How about the Mothers who are forgotten? And, closer to home for me: How about Mother's who abandoned their children?
As usual there are really two sides to everything. 
I'm half torn wanting to post a status update about all this but I think if any of you actively participate on Facebook, you soon come to realize that it's far too easy to inflame all around you by the rampant misunderstanding that occurs regularly with a seemingly innocuous  post. I've had to remind people that I'm being irreverent when I post or making fun or fooling around (except with Art) so stop taking everything so seriously.  
Speaking of abandoning mothers, I watched the BBC Classic theatre movie "Daniel Deronda" by George Sand last night. Interestingly, George Sand was a woman but due to the benighted misogyny of her day, had to use a man's name to publish her work. 
Anyhowfarwehaven'tcomeway, the story is of a young man in 17th? 18th? century England who has grown up as a privileged Englishman in an 'adopted' family and is searching for his roots (along with all sorts of other side stories, blaa bla bla) AnyColesNotesway, he eventually is reunited with his mother and discovers she is a famous artist of the day - a singer - and she tells him she was not a good mother because she wanted a career and not a child so gave him to her friend to raise in England. 
That was the part I was fascinated by. Is this the price you pay for being a woman who is an artist and wants that recognition? Certainly not having my children around me has lead to my success as an Artist because it left me free to paint. And before you judge me with any incensed feelings, may I point out that EVERY MALE artist has done this with impunity and is forgiven.
Ah, woman pays the higher price. 
And an Woman Artist pays the biggest one of all. 

The Painting: "Portrait of Rita" (1951) by Marla Thirsk. 
I did this from a memory really. Mom used to always be on the couch when I came back from school, so it's a memory of that and I used  collaged parts of some old photos of her I have. 
My fav part is the old coke bottle and she did like Coke. 

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