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Fragmentation: Maternal Mourning and Complicated Grief through the Materialities of Paper.

The two least talked about deaths in England and Wales are death of a child and young (usually male) suicide. In these types of bereavement, complicated grief can subsume parents in a way like no other. Mourning can be a very difficult process especially for mothers, who carried that child through pregnancy.

Using paper as a means of connoting affect and grief in my practice, paper became the metaphor to discuss research questions that connects the maternal with the symbolic in maternal grief. This research answers practical methodologies of complicated grief and mourning through the repetition of process. Fragmentation expresses the fragility of the human condition and the idea of craft through the making of paper by hand.

The process is auto-ethnography, using subjective experience as a medium through which to reflect on the relationship between materiality and affect. The substrate using play; judgment is suspended, is hand made to create individual materiality. The theory of culture and society, which enabled the methods of auto-ethnography and creative practice research to emerge, is the paradigm of post modern and post positivist accounts of new relations between ‘subjectivity’ and ‘objectivity’.
Small 4” figures were made to connote complicated grief discussion of death without a body, guilt and shame. The figures were made from paper clay. Choosing not to fire the clay figures, they gradually disintegrate into dust, which became part of the process of decay.

Examining hand process of making helped with the process of grieving, repetition of process helps the reparation. Through display becomes the arena to discuss bereavement and an area to grieve reflectively. All losses evoke, in some complex, enfolded way, the first ontological loss of the subject’s first object of attachment.

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