09 September 2008

the divided heart

by Rachel Power

red dog books. Adult Non-fiction, Australian. Paperback rrp $29.99

In the divided heart, journalist Rachel Powers explores the co-existing demands of art and motherhood. Is it possible for a woman to juggle both successfully? How does one affect the other? In her search for answers, Powers has interviewed twenty-five women prominent in literature, drama, dance, music, photography and fine art.

No reiteration of the content of this book would do it justice. Only the words of the women found in its pages can do that. So I am going to quote a few of my favourite lines.

“I wanted a family as much as I wanted to be an artist.” Sarah Tomasetti (painter)

“I always thought it (family life) would mean the death of the creative self. In fact I’ve found the opposite: it’s a springboard.” Claire Bowditch (musician)

“I felt a kind of resentment about being a mother and not being able to do my work… It was very hard, because my identity was so wrapped up in being creative that I sort of lost myself.”
Beth Norling (artist)

“Art balances children for me. They both give my life meaning… I have always been both mother and artist.” Sally Rippin (children’s author and illustrator)

But perhaps my favourite quote, which best summarises the content, comes from the author’s introduction:

“A line of text now seamless was once broken, interrupted, hastily scribbled onto the back of an envelope before the lights turned green; a baby was fed backstage between scenes; a stroke of paint was applied with the telephone in the other hand; a song composed in the blue light of dawn before the family awoke.”

Maternal instinct and the creative urge are both very strong and rarely synchronised. the divided heart is a testament to the often difficult journey through motherhood by some amazing and talented women. It also provokes a number of questions about the different experience of family men and women in the arts.

This book cannot fail to inspire.

No comments:

Post a Comment