Exhibition dedicated to deceased mothers

Postpartum is an exhibition dedicated to honoring the deceased mothers of artists Melissa Clark, Melissa Urquhart and Hayley West.

Postpartum is an exhibition dedicated to honoring the deceased mothers of artists Melissa Clark, Melissa Urquhart and Hayley West. Through art and ritual, they explore the nature of the relationships and memories they hold of their mothers, and how these have changed over time.

The opening of the exhibition on Saturday evening included a full vigil with music, dancing, drinks, canapes and visitors bringing souvenirs from their own mothers to place at the communal altar.

Artist Melissa Urquhart found the exhibit provided catharsis and a way to process her complex relationship with her mother who died nearly seven years ago.

“When someone dies, there’s nothing tangible to hold and embrace. What’s left are the things, especially the things that you have a special fondness for,” Urquhart said.

“I particularly like his plants, which were passed down to him by my grandmother. I propagate them and give them to my friends as a gift, a living thing that is transmitted.

“In doing so….” Urquhart gestures toward his work: “It’s like I’ve had a chance to commune with Mom. As if it were embodied in objects.

“My other work is what the French call DIY, a collection of assorted things, like college, but it also includes stitching and little bird bones. I call it Mothers Bone. It’s the very essence of her, with music and recipes, photos and text.

Urquhart told the Express this fellow artist, Hayley West’s mother died quite a long time ago. One of his pieces in the exhibit are number balls, to symbolize an experience where West went to see a counselor after his mother died and they asked him to rate his feelings on a scale of 10.

Melissa Clark’s works show her Scottish heritage with tartan wombs, mother-of-pearl symbolizing the seeds of life. Part of her exhibit is a lounge chair upholstered in dark purple velvet, which features cushions with her mother’s buttons sewn onto them.

“We all discovered, doing this exhibit, that there’s something about your mother’s death and about our own role as mothers, discovering the matrilineal,” Urquhart said.

“It’s a way to explore their legacy, both good and bad.”

The exhibition is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. until 27 November at Lot 19, 19 McShanag Drive, Castlemaine.