Catherine Newton, Mum’s Hug 3588, 21290, 11098, 11505
Catherine Newton’s current practice investigates the phenomenology of glass and how this medium can embody a sense of maternal love and intimacy. Largely biographical, her work focuses on her relationship with her four children, as well as celebrating and promoting the important role mothers have in society.
The Mum’s Hug series represents the physical and emotional connection of a mother and child through touch, specifically the act of hugging. Exploiting the fluidity of hot glass at temperatures of between 700 and 800 degrees celsius, Catherine wears layers of heat resistant fabric -including a fireman’s suit- to perform the act of a hot glass hug. An analogy is drawn between hugging hot glass – intimidating and invigorating – and that of being a mum, which is also daunting and stimulating. The resultant textured, transparent sculptural forms are the artefact of the act. The placement of each form on the wall highlights the various ages and sizes of her children.
In the area of glass art, there are few works about the mother-child relationship… Initial stages of my research focused on the importance of maternal touch where I explored ways of conveying the motherly connection through gesture and the idea of my hands nurturing my children. As the year progressed I considered the importance of hugging my children and how I could give substance to this intangible act.
Informed by psychology and theories of ‘nature versus nurture’ and influenced by artists Mary Kelly and Louise Bourgeois, Catherine delves into the formal and metaphorical potential of glass to convey the complex connection of mother and child. In 2016 she graduated from the ANU School of Art & Design with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) and was awarded the Emerging Artist Support Scheme Peter and Lena Karmel Anniversary Award for best graduating student. Newton was Graduate in Residence at the Canberra Glassworks in March 2017, during which time she began to fulfil her ambition of involving mothers from the Canberra community in her work.