In 2007, a young man came across an artwork in the Murray Edwards Women’s Art Collection that changed his life.
In a collage entitled Dreams, Oracles, Icons ... (1991), he discovered a tiny painting of himself as a baby, frozen in time and ‘falling away’ from his birth mother, the artist Mary Husted. Genealogical research and an email completed what art had begun. Mother and son were reunited, 44 years after being forced apart.
In 1963, Mary, then an unmarried eighteen-year-old art student, gave birth to Luke. She had known for months that they would not have long together. Her family had decided that Luke would be put up for adoption. Mary had no say.
They spent just ten days together and Mary drew him because she knew that these drawings would be all she could keep. She drew her baby several times, including at ten days old, when he was taken from her.
A trio of these heartbreakingly tender drawings, together with the collage which Husted made 28 years later, as she searched for her son, go to the very heart of the Fitzwilliam’s major new exhibition Real Families: Stories of Change (6 October 2023 – 7 January 2024).