How does our childhood affect us? What are the behaviours that we learn? Where do these behaviours come from? Can we undo behaviour patterns? How do our histories shape us? What are the social and political impacts of childhood traumas?
Autobiography is an important element of my practice; I use myself and my history to create and uncover feelings, stories and memories that can be used to produce narratives and art works. I see it as a kind of ongoing conversation between my past and present, one which helps me to understand and make sense of the world around me and which can be re-told in a way which is relatable to others.
Alice Miller is a psychoanalyst whose work focuses on the long-term effects of childhood traumas. Her book “The Untouched Key: Tracing Childhood Trauma in Creativity and destructiveness” investigates the link between artists work and their childhood traumas, it is of particular interest to me as it highlights the sometimes unexplored or unknown psychological histories that are revealed through artist’s work. This book enabled me to start to think about why I choose to highlight certain issues within my work, tracing my own personal traumas to find out where a creative impulse or idea might stem from.
The mirror stage
The mirror stage theory has been of interest for me for a long time, the time when a child becomes aware of its own image and therefore develops a sense of the ‘self’ or the ‘I’, is the point in which it develops its identity. Formed in the images of those around the child, this is possibly one of the most important stages in a child’s development.
This is of import within my practice as I am interested in the developmental stages of children and how we form our identities. It is perhaps one of the first transitional stages that we pass through in developing our sense of the world and ourselves. Thus, we are, at the mirror stage, introduced by form of reflection into the realms of gender, of fear, of play, of danger and of all that is reflected upon us from our parents, peers and social structures.