Of Woman Born

Mary Hamil

Belfast School of Art, Ulster University

Desperation surely grew upon him little by little. He loved, he tried to love, he screamed and was not heard because there was nothing and no one in his natural surroundings who saw his plight as unnatural, as anything but the homemaker's usual service to the home.

Through scenes both imagined and observed we have arrived at conclusions on how we feel history has treated us. When we come to accept that in order to improve the position of women within society we must actively move beyond what is perceived to be our traditional roles, there begins a process of questioning. These questions must address the implications of such activism in defining not only the "new woman" as mother, but also the "new man" as mother. Of Woman Born takes its inspiration from the book of the same name by writer and feminist Adrienne Rich. Images were captured of a combination of scenes both imagined and observed; imagined in the mind of one who has experienced the confines of the domestic domain, and observed through the representation of "mother" in art, in history, and through cultural imagery. By using examples from art history of "the male gaze" as a starting point, my intention was to replace the idealized woman with man. The man would therefore perform the role of mother and woman. Overall, the objective would be to encourage the viewer to replace the father again with mother and woman in order to highlight the ongoing conflict with the realization of role reversal. Subtle introductions of nudity are designed to both reference the female nude, but also to encourage thinking around notions of sexuality and our mistrust of men who embrace conventional maternal roles.