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Coromandel Town Chronicle Article November 2022

IMAGINE...100 THOUSAND GRANDMOTHERS SPANNING BACK THROUGH 2.5 MILLION YEARS OF HUMANITY. ONE WOMAN GIVING BIRTH TO THE NEXT, ON AND ON THROUGH TIME, UNTIL HERE AND NOW.


The creation of this exhibition began its journey back in 2020. I was sitting in the little pink room of the Old Coromandel hospital, one of a few artists taking part in the Coromandel Arts Tour Open Studios. I sat making little terracotta womb women, little ancient women that fit snuggly into the palm of a hand. Beside me, set-up on tables, were over a hundred of these small, fired sculptures, in curving lines, one woman in front (or behind) the other, representing one single line of mothers and grandmothers that stretches back behind every one of us, an unbroken line that leads back through millions of years of human evolution, feeling the significance that as individuals, each of these women had their own unique life story.


As I sat there, with yet another little woman forming in my hands, I began to wonder what it might be like to create one long line of these terracotta women that ranged in size, from fitting in the palm of my hand though to … well I did not know other than to say I wanted them to get bigger and bigger. Two years later and indeed they have grown quite big, life size to be exact.


So to the creation of the women themselves. Red raku is the clay I chose to use for the main line of women, along with a gorgeous dark oxide glaze. It has a gorgeous earthy, glowing vibrance, dark glistening surfaces, rough texture, speckles of light that have been gently washed to the surface, it is reliable and easy to build with. The results feel ancient, like an artifact dug up after centuries underground.

My own measurements, i.e. height of ‘floor to elbow’, length of ‘outside lower arm’, are contained within these women as a building frame upon which I could flesh them out individually. Just as my hands, my face, my body, my her-story, my bones, my DNA contains all my ancestors, so too are my own personal measurements contained within each Womb Woman. This feels similar to DNA, we have a blueprint, a code of instructions though which we experience being alive, upon which we flesh out our own living story.


As I build each woman, big or small, I ask “so dear one, what is your life story? What would you like to say? how shall I build the line of your back? How big would you like your belly? Perhaps you are carrying twins? What angle would you like your head? I see your right shoulder is held higher than your left, I wonder what story you are holding there. Each woman contains the same blueprint, then each woman takes on a life of her own.


“Within the DNA is written not only our histories as individuals but the whole history of the human race … patterns of DNA that have come down to us virtually unchanged from our distant ancestors – ancestors who are no longer just an abstract entity but real people who lived in conditions very different from those we enjoy today, who survived them and brought up their children.” ~ Bryan Sykes (The Seven Daughters of Eve)


Through the next few chronicle’s I will be sharing more about this ever evolving exhibition, plus you can also check out my website for a deeper view of ‘Womb Women’.

Warm regards Lisa

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