After a months research component; in which I went to two museums exploring the theme of childhood (see previous blog post), I have now begun what is to be my final major project of my art foundation. These past few weeks have been exciting ones, where I have really developed in my understandings of memory and our formation of identity.
Before entering into this project I always saw identity as an extension of my own consciousness, a perception of reality that was formed before birth, something entirely unique. But perhaps, it is more complex than that. Perhaps not only is it in our pre-determined DNA but in our upbringing that forms this self-proclaimed ‘identity’.
Originally I had been drawn to the theme of memory from the realisation that everyday objects can be transformed by memories; having more emotional value than its monetary worth. Yet it was a late night conversation at spoons that focused my attention on the true power memories can have. In this conversation the idea was floated that one’s identity is formed merely on the basis of what we have perceived as the most likeable version of ourselves to others. Through childhood we all experience different upbringings and social challenges which in turn shape the way we act and react to future situations. Identity or personality is more of a survival instinct than we are aware of. In my reading I came across the memory-image theory, that what we call a memory is in-fact part image, skewed to fit our own bias of what we need our identity to be. So if we take all this to be true, our childhood forms our identity and then our identity reforms our childhood into a memory which suits the best narrative.
Whether you agree with this or not, it certainly makes an interesting basis in which to visually explore childhood memories and identity. So in this first making week I have began to touch upon my own childhood memories, in the form of photographs, as a source of inspiration. Photographs are in themselves an object of the memory-image, and I have explored using them within my work as collages and mono-prints.
Some of these photos are nostalgic mementos of old friends, favourite clothes and toys, holiday places and family events. Yet photos are sometimes too flat, too still, to really capture the raw emotion of a memory. That’s why I want to add a more textural element to my work, perhaps using fabrics from old toys or embroidery fabrics from the clothes of my childhood. I also think that perhaps text would be a good incorporation, to highlight key names, places that to me seem most formative in my childhood.
Next week I hope to merge some of these techniques together into what I imagine to be a memory-quilt. Blankets are, in their function, comforting and nest like: a reminder of blanket forts, nights by the fire and being tucked into bed by my mother. So I think it is apt to start here; in making my own quilt or fabric, I can depict the parts of my childhood that are connected to my core self; that identity which seems soft and vulnerable and is comforted by the blanket of a perfect memory-image.