‘Here the artist, in an elegantly plain three-tiered dress of opaque green, blue and red, stands taut and upright as her arms strain upwards to hang a white linen sheet out to dry; her look, turned towards the viewer, is fiercely engaging. Intentness of posture and mien suggest dynamic domestic purpose. The billowing white sheet, with its ‘magic lantern show’ of meandering watery blue tree shapes, carries manifold associations with themes of nurturing, rest, innocence, procreation and the promise of fecund new beginnings in the image of ‘a clean sheet’. The fluid arboreal shapes projected onto the pristine sheet itself may be seen as a subtle poetic allusion to the branching out of the family tree – celebrating the lives of her four sons...
...Granström’s 2013 self-portrait, Great-Grandmother’s Apron, exists, she says, ‘on one level, as a playful study of the negative surfaces left by a dough cutter on a Formica surface – but the heart of the painting is a one hundred year-old apron passed down from my great granny – an unbroken bond between four generations of women who have worked hard, baking, cooking and cleaning. Am I painting myself, or my great grandmother?’
‘Two (other) self-portraits, Rescuing the Washing and (Taming) Wild Washing – with dark minatory skies and turbulent waters – echo the subject matter of her painting Mother of Four – but ‘these are self-portraits from the subconscious, both inspired by recurring dreams of being haunted by untamed flapping sheets on a stormy midsummer night. They are, without doubt, Freudian.’
Extracts from an essay by Philip Vann on Mother of Four by Brita Granström (a painting purchased in 2011 for the Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Collection. Philip Vann is author of the critically-acclaimed Face to Face: British Self-Portraits in the Twentieth Century (2004)
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