Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Inspiration Station 1: "WAR: A Personal Response", Sidney Museum 2018

Poppies assembled.
Amanda Onchulenko writes...


In 1990 I remember being on a city bus in Sheffield, England, with my grandmother en route to visit another relative when I asked why there were gaps in the rows of terrace houses? My grandmother casually responded, "They were bombed in't war Dook".

One such home belonged to Nan's friend Mabel across the street, who, on hearing the air raid sirens sounding yet again, refused to join her family and neighbours. Instead, she took a poorly timed gamble to take cover under her own kitchen table.

A babies silver cup.

Yesterday while photographing my final piece, "Rain", for Articulation's upcoming show "WAR: A Personal Response", the enormity of those young mothers' emotions rained down on me. Having spent the last couple of weeks hand sewing poppies in silk, tulle, polyester, and even white ticking. Red, for first aid and remembrance, the white ticking representative of the legend of my great grandparents' mattress blown clear out of a second story window and safely intact in a boulevard tree after a particularly destructive evening campaign.

"Rain" by Amanda Onchulenko 2018

Between takes I watched the bone handled, made in Sheffield knives as they dangled from their lines. The cutlery is representative of my great grandfather's profession as a silver piercer while silverware such as the babies cup is representative of my mother, a toddler at the time. These articles strung together with poppies floated gently under the bright lights. The lines that last weekend were tangled into a frustratingly indecipherable hot mess in my kitchen, disappeared, and all I could see and feel were symbolic implements floating aloft on the currents of air.

I imagined home and contents exploding into oblivion. Where one moment a young mother held onto her hearth alone, and the next she was gone. I thought of my grandfather's sister walking three miles with a toddler and babe in her arms, not knowing if her family had survived the night. And my dear grandmother, with my own mother in her arms, emerging from the damp confines of the shelter to discover the gap in the row of terrace houses across the street, where hours ago her friend had gone.

Photography by Rob  Barrow, Winnipeg.
Home and contents aloft.

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