The Secret Staircase by Caroline Isgar & Michelle Roberts
The exhibition/book text, initially inspired by the tokens at the Foundling Museum (identifying tags, rings, plaques, coins, etc, left with the foundlings by their mothers) explores the abandonment, loss and grief felt by an adult daughter as her mother goes through the process of dying. Taking the form of an inventory of items connected with the mother, such as a hairbrush or a button box, which provoke childhood memories, the text counterposes, alongside the mother and daughter’s direct I-you speech, a sequence of rewritten nursery rhymes, which in their poetic language utter all that the daughter dares not openly say.
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