The study visit was held in my favourite gallery in the world, which in itself was a good enough reason to go, the joy of listening to Tabitha’s story and the reason behind her works was the cherry on the cake. The exhibition held 3 photographs, one of herself and one each of the two women whose stories she also told, plus three medical gowns lain in glass cases, one for each woman. The gowns in the cases looked as though they were peacefully asleep or at rest. Each gown Moses had embroidered symbols that told each woman’s story with infertility and I.V.F treatment. There were known symbols such as Romulus and Remus, thermometers, pregnancy testing kits, voodoo dolls, all together mixing science with mythology, showing the womens need to employ any tool and method of belief that brought auspicious tidings of a soon to come pregnancy. The photographs show pain, loss, and unspoken emotions of their own journey towards Motherhood. To write about the work is difficult to express fully gamut of emotions one feels when spending time looking at the gowns as well as listening to the stories. I have experience of working with couples who are having problems conceiving and carrying a baby to full term. I worked as a complementary therapist and apart from the practical aspects of my work, the need to help the couples love and not blame themselves is as important as any other support. The space between the words spoke volumes.
Moses stitches are tiny and so neat and uniform they look machined. I liked the gowns, how they had been worked and what they represented. I acknowledged that the symbols – before Moses explained them left you wondering what they meant, to me this represented the unknowing of someone who has been fortunate enough not to have this experience in their lives. it also spoke of the thoughts that they daren’t put into words or express just in-case it jinxed their plight. the added joy of this study visit was the appearance at the end of our time with Moses of her husband and her daughter Gilder. Moses was successful in the last round of I.V.F and the jewel of a child, just over 1-year-old was testament to the tenacity and hoping that had gone on before.
I saw some parallels in the exhibition to what I had been hoping to do with the part 1 of exploring ideas I had just completed. I too had looked to tell a story of a womans journey through troubled times using symbols. In my conceptual piece I had darned over the face of an images that represented times in Helena’s life where I am sure she wished to never speak of acknowledge or remember. I started to feel more confident about the work. I had been troubled by it as it was a departure from what I would ordinary do plus, I felt that I hadn’t done much work simply because I had only darned a section of the piece and not taken lots of time embroidering. It did take me many hours sampling and developing the idea. I did talk about my concerns about the work to Annabel the tutor who was hosting the study day, and she also made me feel more confident with what I had done. She thought it sounded like a strong conceptual exhibition. I shall await my tutors report before I am able to settle my mind about it. the study visit was definitely useful from many perspectives as it had helped me look at my own work and value it, it enabled me to see parallels to how I work and how a professional artist works, and it also led me to a greater understanding of how symbols can be obvious as to their meaning but even if not, they still have gravity of meaning simply by the questions they pose to the viewer.
A link to Tabitha Moses website is below and on there are images from this exhibition as well as past exhibitions.
One of the past exhibitions Tabitha has done is Untitled arms,in which she has used human bones and built a limb around it using cotton fabric, sawdust, human humerus bone, various threads, hand embroidery. this resonates with me since I had spent much time researching my great-grandfather who was an inventor of artificial limbs. I had wondered how I could interpret his story in some way. Whilst Tabitha had produced something I don’t think would have illustrated my story, I do like the way she has handled these materials.