• Alexis Soul-Gray

Kittens chasing me down the stairs

I have been making work on top of my degree show piece from Camberwell in 2003. All of my work through my undergraduate years and beyond, up until 2006 was about the fear of losing a mother. I used to dream about her funeral regularly, particularly the last 1-2 years before her diagnosis. My Body knew she was ill before my conscious mind did.

The degree show piece was made on approximately 25 sheets of beautiful Japanese paper I bought from John purcel in London. It depicted my mother and her brother descending a vast staircase, an image of a house above them and towering above that domestic dwelling a funerary angel looked out, blinded by the sun. I think the image of the angel was from a photograph I took at nunhead cemetery... I would go there a lot.

It feels cathartic right now to be working on top of these sheets one by one. Without any conscious plan I am making marks and seeing what happens, I have made 3 now and text seems to be playing a strong part in the final image. The first two are my mother’s voice but in this one above my grandmothers voice comes through. The moment I taped up this image on the studio wall I couldn’t help crying, it felt like a release. My grandparents had quite a grand old Victorian house called ‘Stonecroft’ in high beech, Epping forest. Sometimes as a child I would tell her that I was frightened when I went up the stairs, that I felt a presence, particularly on the landing. She told me how as a child she used to think there were ghost kittens chasing her down the stairs. My grandmother also lost her mother in her mid 20’s to cancer. my mother had a near fatal horse riding accident a couple of years before her death.. my grandmother said she was ‘terrified’ the same thing would happen to me as it had her. My grandmother died in 2005, months before my mother was diagnosed, she never knew she was ill, a small blessing. I lost my grandmother and mother about a year apart... my mum was mourning her mum when she died. I can feel the tension in my body build up as I write this, but I’m really glad I have.

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