Baby, Graphite on Paper 2016
This is my most recent commission for The PencilVainia Project. It is a graphite on paper portrait of a baby stillborn at twenty two weeks. It was a very sensitive and emotional drawing to undertake and one which I undertook as a moment of healing for the mother who had commissioned the work for her husband. It has touched a nerve for many people on social media as they have messaged me their private stories and have been very open with their responses to the work.
The piece is small, but still larger than the tiny form portrayed. It was one of those drawings that are already formed and that as an artist I just follow as it produces itself on the page. This is not due to some spiritual or psychic response, but of all of those years of experience, of practice, of looking and refining, all of these aspects make up the discipline of being an artist and at times they come together with a fluidity that just carries me away and I give myself over to the experience.
I worked in a very considered way hardly allowing the pencil to touch the paper, looking and recognizing each tiny detail, to be remembered and celebrated. I stroked the graphite as softly as I could to feel the glistening skin shiny, still being formed, the tectonic plates of his skull moving towards each other. I wanted to celebrate that moment of his development. I included the tip of his mother’s finger under the forming hand as a symbol of their unity. he small form is surrounded by a blanket of white, not floating in space, but separate forever and yet a part of this life.
Art has the capacity to heal and when there is such a visceral response to a piece of work it is an amazing feeling.