Four years ago a pillow left Cornwall for a journey that shows no sign of ending. As I write this it is safely in a flat in Wimbledon, following two months of a residency at the Austrian Cultural Forum
The Pillow is part of ‘Pillow Talk – conversation with women’
Pillow Talk is a transportable installation featuring 59 pillows devised and curated by Mellisa Budasz, Jasmine Praddissitto, Kim Thornton and the late Moira Jarvis. Featuring the work of members of South London Women Artists.
Here is the story of the installations event at Tate Modern.
Each pillow was created by an artist to express how her creativity was inspired or shaped by another woman.
My pillow was inspired by my mother. Here it is with my daughter at Tate Modern.
There is a book to accompany the installation . Each artist wrote a brief explanation of their pillows story.
This blog is the longer story of my pillow.
I was my mother’s only child and the result of an unwanted pregnancy. I realise that this statement seems harsh but it was a truth she never attempted to hide from me. I am not at all unique, a large percentage of the human race are the result of unwanted pregnancies. Her unwanted pregnancy spurred her on to set up Family Planning clinics in a rural corner of Essex early in the 1960’s. She and a small group of friends set their clinics up under the umbrella of the Family Planning Association. Contraception freely available to all was not the organisations original mission. Contraception was only available to married women with written permission of their husbands, or Vicar in the case of soon to be married women.
My mum and her friends ran their clinics a little differently and offered contraception to anyone who wanted it and faked the male permissions. Progressive sexual literature was available and all women were encouraged to attend for smears.
Running these clinics was not without personal cost. There were occasional protests and stuff was put through the letter box at home. Our house was at one time surrounded by women pushing prams.
Eventually the country caught up with North East Essex and contraception and sexual health advice became freely and unquestionably available.
The pillow records the actions of normal anonymous women doing something forward thinking but not universally popular for all women in their community. Their strength of character is my creative inspiration.
The pillow on its latest outing.
And in the book.