No-one to Bestow
"No-one to Bestow" is an interactive installation I exhibited at St Barnabas church hall in Walthamstow as part of the 2012 E17 Art Trail. The idea for the title came from the theme for the 2012 Art Trail, "Bestow". The installation explored the theme of women being childless or child-free, and having no-one to bestow their cherished possessions on to.

I contacted 12 women I know who, like me, don't have children, and asked if I could interview them and allow me to tell their stories alongside my own. I hand-wrote their stories onto long lengths of paper and attached these to panels in the installation space. The stories were either accompanied by a portrait I had painted, or left blank where the woman preferred to remain anonymous. I also made a large clock face, displayed behind the panels, the numbers fading as they progressed from one to twelve, and the hands set at five-to-twelve. The clock tick-tocked loudly as visitors walked among the panels reading the women's stories.

I suspended golden threads between the panels, and invited visitors to add their own stories to the installation by writing onto paper tags provided, and attaching to the thread with ribbons.

As the exhibition continued during the two weeks of the Art Trail, more and more women (and some men) added their own stories to the thread. By the end there were around 100 of them - some short, some long and detailed, all of them poignant. Some were heartbreaking to read. Most of them said how thought-provoking the exhibition was, that it brought up important issues. Many thanked me for putting on the show and giving them a voice, a place to express themselves.

I had no idea quite how powerfully emotive and moving the exhibition would be to others, and I was overwhelmed by the response from hundreds of visitors.

I was very touched by this moving review of my exhibition by the E17 Art Trail blogger:

The installation was shown again, with additional stories and portraits, in February 2013 at the Tokarska gallery in Walthamstow.

Photo by Caroline Skene