Mutter Matter was a 2 year collaborative installation project by artists
Jane Fox and Irene Mensah.
The work attended to the fragile and elusive nature of memory and the significance of domestic objects in exploring and re-siting the past.
The impetus for the work was two domestic books, each inherited from a Grandmother: ‘Enquire Within Upon Everything’ 114th edition, 1929 inherited from Hilda Fox (Fox) and ‘Quotations and Recipes’ 1931, Wisbech, inherited from Lily Shaw (Mensah).
The books provided a lens through which the artists explored their own and their Grandmother’s lives via collisions of memory and material, and in conversation between themselves. … the exuberant naughtiness of licking plates, a discreet hum or the handling of flour and utensils to create ‘Perfection Lemon Pie’.
Between them, the artists adventured towards creating installations in two contrasting domestic spaces from the Regency period.
‘Mutter Matter- murmurings from the Kitchen table’
Regency Town House, HOUSE, Brighton
‘Mutter Matter- murmurings from the Drawing Room table’
Pitzhanger Manor House, Ealing, London
At Pitzhanger Manor, a new voice was invited to enter the dialogue –that of Dr William Kitchiner, Regency Cook and author of ‘The Cooks Oracle’ (4th edition 1822) and a new recipe – ‘The Broth of Fragments’’ came into being!
William Kitchiner’s book can be found in the Library of Sir John Soane and ‘Mutter Matter –Murmurings from the Drawing Room table’, also drew on other traces from Soane family life in the 1800’s. Eliza Soane made her own clothes and her noting of the costs and lengths of fabrics can be seen in her notebooks, which also listed guests and ingredients in planning for their nights of entertaining at Pitzhanger Manor.
The artists wove together elements from their personal memories alongside their observations from research into the lives of Sir John and Eliza Soane. It was not the details of these memories that the work revealed but rather a strange mix of mayhem and contemplation, surface and touch, presence and absence, and the impossibility of perfection that crosses generations of women.
The first sight of the table took my breath away’ – ‘Wonderings, stirrings, rememberings..’ – ‘Still feeling uplifted by the impact of Mutter Matter…’ – ‘Marvellous, moving, thought provoking – just what the heart needs! – ‘Inspirational!’
Perfectly poised between dream and reality – a mere gust from a carelessly slammed door or an inopportune sneeze could tip the balance and the whole thing come toppling down in a haze of fragments, recollections, notions and dust.
Read a review by Maria Blyzinsky on a-n INTERFACE
Read a review by Rachel Scicluna on Academia.edu