I thought it would be Roses offers an opportunity to examine personal reflections of womanhood. It began with me wanting to speak with women about their sexual narratives with a desire to understand first hand their experiences. Through understanding others perhaps I could better know myself. The significance of this research and resulting work is to give voice to women’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings. This facilitates a more open dialogue and gives us permission to talk about gender and sexuality. It aims to expose the bias apparent in the taboos and societal untruths surrounding female sexuality while discussing the greater ‘collective consciousness’. Through tapping into this collective experience, the research aims to interrogate a gendered sense of self or identity and how this is connected to a woman’s sexuality. I interviewed eight women and from these interviews love letters were created. As the interview process was a cathartic conversation between participants and myself, we both agreed that the transcripts should be kept between us. We needed a way to package their words for public viewing. The letters give the participating women right of reply. They draw attention to narratives and experiences that are often ignored or skewered in the mainstream conscious. Women’s sexual narratives, and the experiences of young women are commonly relayed and understood through rhetorical fairytales, rather than through storytelling and voice (as they might commonly be articulated in a private space). The installation begins with my letter and a mirror offset behind it. Not only does it reveal the process of ‘making’ but reflects the viewer reading the work. The sharing of knowledge is incredibly important in this project in which stories are shared. This has been further emphasised by bringing together a group of women to sew the letters. This symbolises the sharing of knowledge between women.
In part it was my mother, Margaret, who was the catalyst for undertaking this project. She has lived these women’s stories. I have come to realise I will never be as close to her as I am now. I will leave university, and with that, move away from the closeness of the family unit. This partnership, process, and final installation, is a way to pay homage to that.