It was in 2015 when the artist changed her mind about undertaking IVF, following a long series of medical investigations and three miscarriages.
Although the unravelling of possible causes and solutions for infertility spanned several years the start of the process coincided with the discovery that her mother had terminal cancer.
Fairbrother relocated to care for her, attempting to piece together the simultaneous loss of her remaining parent with the dwindling possibility of becoming one herself. She tried to make work to articulate what she could find no words for, acting out the shapes of pregnancy with a cushion while wearing her grandmother’s blue dress. She considered the imminent and abrupt end of her own maternal line but found the work too upsetting and stopped.
Some months later, after her mother died, she found two pictures she had never seen before – a pair of 5×4 transparencies taken by the artist’s father, showing her mother in the late stages of pregnancy. Although they had been in the artist’s possession for more than a decade, left in an old box of what she thought contained expired photographic paper, it was only a few weeks after her mother’s funeral that she eventually found them.
Role play (woman with cushion) is Fairbrother’s response to the pictures she found and the knowledge that a future biological maternal path was not open to her. She picked up where she had left off to perform pregnancy for the camera, pretending to be a mother while thinking of her own, trying to connect them through stitch in her hand-marked works.