Life 5 – Shall I Be Mother? by Annabel Rainbow

Life 5 – “Shall I Be Mother?”

56 inches by 72 inches


“Shall I be mother?” is often said when one takes charge of the teapot at gatherings, and helps everyone else to a cup of tea. So there is a double meaning on this quilt  and it’s all caught up with the tea ceremony, which is why it will be shown as part of the Orientation exhibition at Wheedon in March.

The Story: There is a young woman who needs to work for a living as a geisha. She’s not a prostitute but a respected member of a society which values things differently. She makes her living from singing and dancing and entertaining including officiating at tea ceremonies. Illegally, her virginity has been bought and she is with child. She’s doesn’t know what to do. Her instincts as a prospective mother have to be weighed against her lifestyle and the years of training she’s undertaken. Her life as a geisha would not be possible and she has to live somehow. She has an answer of course, but it’s not simple. She doesn’t know what to do. There’s a rational argument, an instinctive human response, and a spiritual one as well.


Here’s the words that are stitched onto the body

Shall I be mother?  I don’t know, I really don’t know. In 2001 my mizuage was illegally sold for 20,000 and means I am now officially Geisha. For me the tea ceremony is a transformative practice and I follow the belief of wabi sabi and I can now be a host and earn my living. I do not believe in an afterlife. When I die, I disappear. But I am with child and my mortality will become my immortality.


No one should have the right to say what happens to my body, because I don’t belong to anyone else.  I was given the gift of life when I was born but I find I am not free. No one is. Governments and religions all dictate to us. They have given themselves the right to command what happens to our bodies and say when one person becomes two, and that one person will suffer because of the other.  What is soul? Consciousness is soul. Potential isn’t soul. I had the potential to pass exams but didn’t. A potential person isn’t a person. Thomas Aquinas said that boys had soul 40 days gestation and girls at 90 days, and the Catholic Church says soul exists from conception. How can that be?  I can’t believe in your God, and wonder how can you quantify the spiritual and justify your actions by promising an afterlife, but, I am human, I am woman, and……..


At 1 month 0.5cms

Heart pumping since 18th day. The beginnings of eyes, spinal cord and nerves, lungs, stomach, intestines, liver and kidneys.


At 2 months 2.5 to 3.5 cms

Arms and legs become distinct and tiny fingers and toes appear. All internal organs of an adult, at various stages of development, are present. The first bone cells begin to be formed. Brain waves can be detected from about the sixth week.


At 3 months. 6-8 cms

Development continues. The mother may feel the foetus kicking as it flexes its muscles. The heartbeat can be detected. The foetus now looks clearly like a human baby and can suck its thumb.


At 4 months 12-18 cms

The head has distinct human features and may have hair. The skin is pink, and the bones are closing to form joints. A baby can now be a girl or a boy.


At 5 months 25-30cms

Developing rapidly and very active


At 6 months 28-34cms.

Eyes may now open. All systems are formed and are just growing in size


At 7-9months 36-56cms

Grows in size and fat is deposited to help survival at birth. Grows fingernails.