My latest painting is based on a series that I started in a recent incredible week-long workshop with American artist Robert Burridge. Robert’s energy and passion for art was infectious and he challenged us to not only work in a series but to do something completely different from what we’ve always done and to maybe even try something in our art that we have always thought of but didn’t think we could or should.
I was filled with so many ideas that week but it took me a few days to stumble across a series that I really wanted to tackle. One night after class for some reason the name of my Great-Grandmother, Emily Blackmore, came up in a conversation I was having. Afterwards I was thinking what a great name that was and how fascinated I was by her and her story – or lack thereof.
Emily, who lived in England her whole life, has remained a mystery for my family as there is very little information about her. My father never knew her as she passed away a few months before he was born in 1921. It wasn’t even until nearly 90 years later that he learned her name when a relative sent a photo they had found. In it she was wearing an elaborate hat. I knew from my father that her daughter also wore these fantastic hats and later found out that they were milliners. This mystery and the these gorgeous big hats from the early 1900s became the genesis for this series.
In this painting, I created Emily primarily through collage pieces of maps of London as that is the one known fact about her – she lived and is buried there. Other parts of the United Kingdom are included in the collage as they are all possible locations of her origin. And of course she is wearing an enormous hat! Maps are something that I have always loved and collected and I love being able to incorporate them in my artwork for the first time.
So far its been fun to explore this mystery and my family’s history through paint this way! Many thanks to Robert Burridge for the inspiration and an incredible workshop!