OPEN – MAYFLOWER – Irene MacWilliam – Southampton City Art Gallery

Irene MacWilliam

Pilgrim Mothers: Survival and Loss

Etching with drypoint

The Mayflower sailed from Southampton in 1640 with 18 Separatist women and 11 girls on board. Only 4 of the 18 women survived to see summer – due mainly to wintering on the damp and fetid ship, while the men lived ashore. This image reflects the central role the 4 surviving women had as pioneers and maternal figures in the colony. Memories of their 14 departed sisters are shown as drops in a watery background. The change from blue to green, the colour of life and growth, alongside the DNA chain, symbolises the continuing line of all the Pilgrim Mothers in subsequent generations. In remembering them I want to pay tribute to the many women migrants and refugees who hold families and groups together in extreme situations. 

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