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U & I

7 October to 16 December 2023

Natasha MacVoy’s enveloping installation U & I is a disrupted, unsettled idyllic space housing films and sculptural works that explore the various ways she has rehearsed, adapted and changed the fabric of the world to provide an invisible support structure for her children. 

“The idea of the mother as stunt performer came about at the same time as my children began refusing to go to school and we began to understand this was based in undiagnosed neurodivergent traits including autism. After three years of looking for support from health and education services we have had to come up with our own knowledge about how to support them and develop the expertise that parents and carers need to take on when supporting people with additional needs. There is a constant performance that takes place to create the right environment for our children to thrive.”

In U & I, a new film made for Eastside Projects, the camera follows Natasha and the actress Susan Lynch as they walk side by side through the ancient beech woods behind her house in rural Gloucestershire. In an endless loop they reenact walks she made with her identical twins during lockdown as she supported them to re-engage with learning. Wearing Natasha’s clothes and a hand-made wig the actor mimics her gait, pace, mannerisms and aura, making tiny adjustments throughout as she attempts to become her double. 

Like many elements of the installation the wig the actor wears was made through a meticulous process of knotting individual hairs onto lace, taking months to make for just days of filming. These structures and ways of making  correlate with how Natasha rehearses things she thinks might be difficult for her children, intricate preparations that put in place the adaptations that they need to navigate the neurotypical environment.

A drone camera is paired to the back of Natasha’s head. Programmed to keep a consistent distance from her, if it encounters an obstacle like a tree branch  it first moves to protect itself and then quickly catches  up to where she is, jerky movements akin to a first person video game which reveal its own invisible difficulties with following a simple instruction. The drone reflects the constant shadow that care work imposes on the artist’s own life, the difficulty in carving out space and time for creative practice, but also the joy of understanding her children’s boundaries, finding the family’s own path and building a world in which they can all be themselves.

 


Natasha lives in Dursley, Gloucestershire, with a studio at Spike Island, Bristol. Her sculptural practice includes murals, ceramics, writing, performance and film to create installations and environments. Her work is a generous, gentle and complex study of mothering, identity, loss, gain and unconditional love through the lens of neurodiversity. In her practice she explores adaptative care and education in a broken system, expertise as protection and hope through radical connection. Recent exhibitions include: OUTPOST Members’ Show curated by Amartey Golding, OUTPOST Gallery, Norwich, 2022; Blush, ASC Gallery, London, 2022; tibrO yalP, g39, Cardiff, 2022; My Kid Could’ve Done That, The Edge Arts, Bath, 2021.

This exhibition is the 2023 EOP Members project, Natasha has been an EOP Member since 2019.