Lizzie Philps

Lizzie Philps, 'The Pilgrimage of the Prodigal Daughter', 2013

Lizzie Philps (UK, Bristol)
The Pilgrimage of the Prodigal Daughter (2013)
Tryptich video installation, 1 hr


My mother is an excellent navigator. The only time I’ve heard her say “fuck” was when she threw the map at my father on holiday. She taught me what contour lines are, and that a river meanders.

This is the first time I have tried to be like her.

In 2013, I carried my daughter 50 miles to my mothers’ house. Humbled by new motherhood, walking seemed to express the inexpressible about stepping into the shoes of the next generation. The transition from daughter to mother, like the act of pilgrimage, is a public as well as personal act. It thrusts us together with strangers, forces us to ask for help, and to improvise. It is performative, embodied, and durational.

As I walk, I am talking to a stranger I don’t yet know, as she will struggle to believe that this me ever was.

With 24 hours of footage, a collection of leaves and flowers, photos, tweets and GPS tracks, I have an excess of “maternal memorabilia” (Kelly, 2010) to document what we did, but not a clue how I will begin to tell my daughter why we didn’t just go to Tumbletots instead. The creation of art works in response to the walk is an attempt to explain, yet each piece is made in the knowledge that it will fail. That time, those physical and emotional places, those feelings have passed now and only fragments remain. Like any performance of the intimate act of the curating maternal, so much is unsaid. But there are truths in the doing that cannot be put into words.

Got lost. Had to be rescued in the dark. The generations either side of me were united in their disapproval.