26 September–1 October 2022
PV 27 September 2022, 18.30–20.30 pm
Parenthood collates three years of work, all centred on the universal subject of family. I attempt to portray the intimacy of the early years through uncompromising and compelling studies of new life, drawing particularly on the apprehensions and fragility of parenting.
Many of the 75 pieces depict small infants asleep. We – as the viewer – are allowed this tender moment when the sleeping child is completely unaware of our presence, cocooned in warmth and safety. Through my work, these intimate studies become enduring images for families to cherish for years to come.
Similarly, each painting of my own family and children has been an opportunity for me to gift the time we spend together, helping me treasure this brief period, encouraging a positive psychological journey and cementing my bond with each. Through this body of work, my intention has been to illustrate the significant importance of the early years in our daily lives by highlighting our shared experiences and the inherent relatability of infanthood.
In the self-portraits and the woman-and-child compositions, I attempt to challenge the precedent that reduces a mother’s existence simply to her function, instead offering other facets, including displays of maternal trepidation and mental conflict, questioning the nature of responsibility, womanhood and guardianship. In the three self-portraits, I examine feelings of foreboding, eagerness and physical depletion, with the fractured “Pregnancy in Two Parts” playing on these conflicts especially.
The rawness of “Three in a Bed” lays bare the duality of the mother’s exhaustion and constancy – a familiar scene to parents – and the exposition of the mother’s unique vulnerability is continued in “Breastfeeding in the Garden” and the various bath nudes.
In “Parenthood”, I invite the viewer to journey beyond the traditional remit of motherhood, developing conversations around the mother-figure, by capturing familiar moments, both fraught and tender.
My approach to painting centres around my interest in mark- making and colour theory. Artists such as Alice Neel, Chantal Joffe and Susanne du Toit have made a great impression on my work, notably in their compositions and the intention of their mark- making. I have really enjoyed the brushwork and the decisive movement in their work, which is the antithesis of saccharin – an approach rooted in reality, which I find so endearing.
Elizabeth Shields, 2022
Elizabeth Shields obtained her Foundation Diploma at Wimbledon School of Art, a BA in Painting and Printmaking at Glasgow School of Art and the Diploma in Portraiture at Heatherley School of Fine Art. She has exhibited with The Royal Society of British Artists, The Royal Institute of Oil Painters at the Mall Galleries and is included in the Ruth Borchard permanent acquisitions. Elizabeth also sells still life and landscape work through the Lost Gallery, Strathdon.