‘As we make our way through the myriad of ‘stuff’ which remains – the familiar, forgotten and unfamiliar, we discover and rewrite the past, calibrating our memories and thoughts, shifting the sense of ourselves and our life story.’
This exhibition presents a collection of drawings made by Fay Ballard since her father, the novelist J. G. Ballard, died in 2009. The ‘House Clearance’ of the title refers to that of the parents’ home following such a bereavement. The artist described this as a ‘daunting task’, where ‘the past is present in each room, on the staircase banister, on the light switches, the window ledges, mantelpieces and door handles.’
It was on a summer holiday in Spain, 1964 that Fay Ballard’s mother died suddenly of pneumonia, aged 34. The young family returned to Shepperton, and continued their lives with no discussion about the tragic loss they had just experienced. There were no photographs of the artist’s mother on display in the home, she became ‘invisible, almost erased’.
Room One of the exhibition features drawings of the artist’s mother made from photographs discovered hidden away at the family home. Amongst them a pair of small photographs of the artist as a baby with her parents in Chiswick House Gardens. The parents took it in turn to pose with their young daughter in front of a large stone statue of the Sphinx, the man-eating mythical beast who guarded Thebes. The photographs show a young happy family, the statue acts as an omen of their impending tragedy.
Whilst clearing her father’s house – the family home, Fay found herself confronted with ‘stuff’. Small possessions, containing countless memories that shape us and the stories we tell about ourselves. It is on these small objects that the artist’s attentions are focused in the second room of this exhibition. Drawn in incredible detail and grouped into ‘Memory Boxes’, of which there are 3. Box 1 comprises objects drawn from life, with every crack, crease and speck of dust accounted for. Box 2 holds objects drawn from memory and Box 3 contains objects representing the artist’s father, the central figure in her life who brought her and her siblings up single-handedly.
‘The memory boxes commemorate and celebrate these objects which stir the memory and unlock the past. The drawings of my mother make concrete her presence. The process of drawing and making marks on to paper brings her back, and makes her real. They reinstate her into my life.’
The exhibition will be accompanied by a short catalogue containing an essay by writer and curator, Kathy Kubicki.
A related events programme will also be held, including drawing workshops and an evening discussion.
More information to follow.