Leaving Home – Artist Statement

Leaving Home consists of a series of copper plates, intaglio prints and a community participatory component which explore the emotional and physical effects of displacement using electro-etching, probing what you physically carry when leaving home and the emotional and spiritual baggage you bring with you in your body.

The small suitcase that as young children my brother and I shared when we had to flee from the Congo became the inspiration for this work. Through this work I explore those things that you physically take when you leave home, and the baggage you carry in your body such as memory, familiarity, cultural identity, grief, sadness and loss.

My brother and I made difficult choices encountering conflicting emotions when compelled to decide what to take and what to leave behind when we were forced to leave home. I put my favorite doll’s clothes into the suitcase, but in the tension of the moment I had to leave the doll behind. My brother chose a number of small plastic farm animals but had to abandon his favorite painted metal barn that housed them. Each time we played with our treasured items we were reminded of what we had retained and what we had lost.

My experience of involuntary evacuation from a volatile, dangerous political situation was dramatic and emotional. This work provides points of connection with viewers as many people have experienced the physical and emotional upheaval of being displaced due to natural disasters, economic imperatives or physical danger and insecurity. No journey is certain when one’s world is turned upside down; everyone carries physical and emotional baggage in these circumstances.

In this body of work the electrical current journeys between two copper plates tattooing the pressure points of the clothing, charting the highs and the lows, the mountains and the valleys of the experience of leaving home. The nuanced slightly out of focus photographic like translation of the front and back of the clothing, records the physical outside and emotional inside, marking uncertainty, unpredictability, fear and trauma. Clothing is the bodies second skin. It protects, defines and obscures, standing between what we reveal and what we hide. The clothing is sacrificed in the process, stained and scarred with copper fragments trapped in the weave of the fabric