by Anneri Erasmus
Throughout my life, the hospital was ‘a home away from home’ to my mother, and a place that continues to make me feel both uncomfortable and assured.
Welcome Home is informed by my memories and experience of growing up with a mother who, at times, spent almost as much time in hospital as she did in our home. My mother suffered from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis – a combination which caused her to suffer severe spinal problems. Doctors had to stabilise her spine with nuts and bolts every time another disk got eaten away by the RA. Growing up, the image of a bedroom in the house and a bedroom in a hospital was uncannily similar to me. One would just have a slightly more ‘homely’ feel than the other, although both contained a disquieting mix of home comforts and medical paraphernalia.
A key work in the installation comprises the three back braces that belonged to my mother, and that illustrate the progressive deterioration of her health. Each brace is larger than the previous one, and designed to afford increasing levels of support. The braces are filled with artificial flowers, evoking the fake compassion of many hospital visitors. The blurring of home and hospital was a constant throughout my life, until my mother passed away in 2021. After her death I am left with the remnants of her struggles, and with my struggle to make sense of a childhood torn between hospital and home.