Friday, January 6, 2012

Mabel Royds's Bathing Children

A splash across the skin and the dirt is gone. It floats away on the rippling surface of the water. Water that surrounds ankles and knees of children. They bend and stretch, contorting their bodies in their attempts to cleanse every crease and patch of skin.

Their mother is crouched down, the length of her body folded down like an accordion to meet the children on their level. Her patient gaze follows the vertical lines of her daughter's dripping, wet hair. She is beside them, but separated by the white of her robes. These, and her being positioned curved away from the children reveal her to be merely an observer. And yet, while she is not a participant in the act of bathing, she is held captive by the activity. Bent into the square of the image's composition, the mother is unable to stand or walk away. In contrast, her son's arm gracefully sweeps up out of the frame. Like the water, she is necessarily present, but not really the subject matter.

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