Tina McKenzie (pictured) was the Veteran and Emergency First Responder Prize winner for her work Replacement mother figures.
Tina’s ceramics installation signified her internal struggles and later understanding of the importance of attachment and belonging in human identity.
“At the time of creating this work, I finally had the space and clarity to work on some of the issues that I was holding on to from my past, in relation to a complicated relationship with an emotionally abusive mother.
These figurines speak of pride and femininity, strength, and body positivity – they are representations of the affirmation and positivity that was not present for me as a child. We all need empowering, positive role models and when I could not find that in my own direct family, I turned to my grandmother and other strong figures when I had the chance to interact with them.
The installation centres around a figure I have quietly brought into being; a dark, void-like figure named “The Absence.” To me, this piece has a dual personality – it represents the stony, vacuous pull of a mother with severe mental illness and a portrayal of the cold and empty child trying to find love and inspiration.”
Judges commented that this ceramic work of figurines depicts an artist’s representation of her internal struggle with personal emotional issues developed in response to her close intimate environment and a primary relationship in which she was unable to find the peace and support she required and longed for. The ceramic figures represent and speak of the more positive symbols which she lacked as a child, but which she reached for and found in her grandmother and other strong figures.
This work highlights the importance of the formation of attachment and belonging in human identity and stresses the role of our mental state in the private journey toward health and healing.