early

Feature image
'Swimming in Doubt', Emma Thorpe, 2018. Image courtesy of the artist

early

An Exhibition by Emma Thorp

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early follows the chronological, narrative journey of an artist mother’s experiences with premature birth, Autism and ADHD.

This exhibition offers insight into the often very private and insular world of the special needs parent. It acknowledges the journey that parents of children who are requiring ongoing therapies and interventions travel. It exposes the wear that such a journey places on the family unit and the tenacity and inner strength of the parents and carers in their determination to see their children thrive and succeed.

Emma’s interest in this subject stems from her own experiences, as her son was born at only 26 weeks (3 months premature). She experienced the fear, guilt, regrets and frustrations first hand and became aware of how private and isolated her own life had become. Juggling her own desires and commitments with those of the hospital, her husband and eldest child left her feeling inadequate and deficient.

early illustrates the stressful initial days after the birth of her son, his subsequent long stint in hospital (78 days) and then proceeds through the narrative of his therapies, diagnosis, adaptations and achievements up to his eighth birthday.

early consists of 30 meticulously rendered, large format acrylic and colour pencil drawings on paper. Emma began this project on her son’s first day of school, determined to claw back her own sense of identity. She sees the completion of this series and the way it has touched the audience as a testament to the successes of the medical community, family, friends, teachers, and the broader community.

early illustrates some very difficult themes, revealing the highs and lows of special needs parenting. It closes with a series of images of hope and success and leaves us with the understanding that awareness, compassion, and small adaptations can allow everyone to thrive.

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