Maxine Fitz-Patrick

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition

Yours Lovingly Agnes – a Post Mortem

From a young age, I have been fascinated by the idea of ghosts. I often find myself called to make sense of these bodyless inhabitants who occupy a liminal and simultaneous past, present and future. This fascination has followed me throughout my life and has greatly informed my artistic praxis. My approach to studio practice can be described as hauntological. As a hauntological artist, I use my work to deconstruct and attempt to reconstruct the histories of long-deceased family members and look towards unearthed intergenerational narratives. By employing the languages of process-based art and materiality, I examine how the artistic process can be used as a form of ritualistic conjuration to evoke a spectre and questioning the Western understanding of the finality of death. Considering how the tragic, mysterious, and almost romanticised histories that punctuate my family lineage continue to affect its living members, I am again drawn towards the concept of ghosts and examining their profound relationality to the present.

Yours Lovingly Agnes - a Post Mortem (2023) is a continuation of a previous project that became unintentionally catalytic within my family history. In 2022, I embarked on an archive-based project that aimed to connect with family members I had never known. The foundations for this body of work involved digitally archiving a large collection of physical photographs, letters, and sentimental objects, all of which originated from a single large suitcase. The pictures and letters that emerged from this suitcase forever changed my father’s memories of and relationships with his family.

This recent interaction of my ongoing archival project features the horse as its central motif.

Some of my father’s earliest memories were of his mother working around the stables or training her prized horse, Liberette.  She notably suffered from a seizure disorder, which was believed to have resulted from an accident in which she was thrown from her horse.  One of my father’s earliest childhood memories is finding her having a seizure in the stables. Since that day, he has been haunted by the possibility that he did not find help for her and indirectly blamed himself. However, in this suitcase was an 8-page letter, written by one of his mother’s friends, Agnes, which detailed the events of that day. In her letter, she clearly states that my father was the one who found help by calling out to her. This single communication changed my father’s life and set him on a journey to releasing over 50 years of guilt.

The large equine sculpture at the centre of my exhibition has been built in a manner that shows the progression of my research into the family archive and how parts of the story have now been solidified through new evidence while still communicating that it is not yet complete and still in the process of discovery. It incorporates both permanent and ephemeral art processes. These opposing approaches speaks to how while some of the story has been solidified through the finding of these letters, this project is still an ongoing process that still has not come to a resolution and, due to the limited record, probably never will. Some parts will remain intentionally unresolved as it cannot be claimed that the story has been fully told and, therefore, will never appear as resolute.

“Of every concept, beginning with the concepts of being and time. That is what we would be calling here a hauntology. Ontology opposes it only in a movement of exorcism. Ontology is an act of conjuration”. Derrida (Spectres of Marx, 1993)