Anne-Marie Jean on the first year and creative practice, exhibition at ANU Foyer gallery, June 2016:
Even though I wanted to take the radical step of putting something else well and truly before my creative practice in the last year, it felt important to have an exhibition in the first year of Camille's life. I wanted some small milestone to work towards that would keep me quietly in touch with my research, my art making and my sense of self. I also wanted to build community and support other artist mums to do the same.
It's been a wonderful year, profoundly new, profoundly unpredictable, full of love, joy, challenge and fatigue. In early low moments with my sense of self eroded by sleep deprivation I realised I needed to make something, even if only a mark on a page while feeding Camille. So I started to go into the studio room at home and with one hand make whatever mark I could on paper with watercolour, ink, pencil and oil pastel.
With only one hand and a shifting paper surface I recognized in the marks I made the disjointed staccato of walking in the bush. Unable to clean the brush as I worked I took advantage of the increasingly dirty tertiary colours as they reflected the layered debris of undergrowth and the shifting light of bush near and far.
Making work over this first year has reconfirmed the role creative practice plays in my own well-being and functionality. It calms and renews me and provides energy and positivity to bring to the people I love. Working with new parameters of scale, material, mark making capacity and tools has facilitated the breach of some long entrenched habits of representation, resulting in works that convey a more phenomenal experience of walking in the bush, the key area of investigation in my PhD research. I would not have predicted the limitations imposed on my practice by new motherhood would create the perfect environment for new insight.