‘The Room Without You’ is a reflective exhibition of artwork focusing on the raft of emotional issues they’ve faced in navigating the tricky business of marital separation with children.
Sophie and Sharon originally connected at one of the most dazzling and confounding intersections of life – brand new motherhood. Along with a dozen or so other mums in their Mothers Group in 2004. They spent Thursday mornings swapping breastfeeding stories, clucking over baby cuddles and lamenting over endless nights with no sleep.
Over thirteen years on, there has been a whole lot of life wash under the bridge for both of them and they have found themselves reconnecting at yet another confounding intersection – the one where you must face bundling those same babies through a marital separation. Through this experience, art bought them back together as they both set about using their work to make sense of such a difficult time.
I am a Sydney based creative, with a long career in digital media. Many years back, I did a Fine Art degree with a focus on printmaking; then I completed post grad studies in digital arts at Central & St. Martins college of Art in London.
I’ve completed commissions, exhibited prints and interactive digital work in the UK, Tokyo and California. But, until now, I’ve never given my analogue drawing style any room for expression. So here goes, I’ve turned the screen off and taken a year to create a series of works reflecting the recent rollercoaster of life.
My works are a series of hand drawn, heart-felt reactions to the cycles of emotion, coping mechanisms and events in a separated family. Divorced six years ago, I still struggle with the 50% absence of my sons from my life. The ‘Now You See Me’ series is all about cherishing those fleeting moments in the face of scheduled separations.
I have witnessed the hurt caused by parental alienation first hand. I have three sets of friends who have wrestled with the machinations of ex-partners dismantling relationships between parent and child. It’s a tragic facet of so many divorces…it really deserves more awareness. So I’m happy to team up with Sharon on this important issue and let our art speak.
Towards the end of 2017 I became determined to attach more personal meaning to my art. I resolved to share the real emotional issues that plague me through my paintings. Through the sticky process of marital separation and forming new blended families I have borne witness to a phenomena, which was new to me until a couple of years ago – Parental Alienation.
In short it is the process through which a child is influenced and manipulated to wholly reject a perfectly loving parent. It leaves deep emotional and mental scars for both the children and the alienated parents and is fast becoming one of the most serious mental health issues of our times. Akin to the type of brainwashing that occurs in cults, parental alienation can very sneakily look like a parent ‘caring’ for the child on the outside, but behind the scenes the child is being taught either outrightly, or via subtle gestures and inferences that their other parent (the alienated one) can’t be trusted and should be feared. The alienator sets themselves up to appear to be the child’s one true protector and saviour. In almost every case the child suffers ‘psychological splitting’ where they are no longer able to see a world through their own perspective – one parent is perceived to be entirely good, whilst the alienated parent is perceived to be entirely bad.
My work in this series is aimed at drawing attention to the tactics used by alienators, in the hope that friends and family learn to identify the patterns and behaviour early so we can save relationships and help prevent children being torn away from parents who love them deeply.