Where my mother tongue can kiss the soil she stands upon and begin to grow (2020)
100cm x 200cm
‘I wonder what happens when you leave your mother tongue behind and don’t give her the chance to grow. The chance to become a mother (to nurture your growth).
She’s still young and tender to the world.
I dream of a creature who can swim across oceans collecting languages and blending harmlessly - seamlessly.
I wish I could mimic this creature and find home - where my mother tongue can kiss the soil she stands upon and grow beautifully.’
Having grown up between cultures, Emma Rani Hodges is a second generation Thai-Chinese migrant on their mothers side and a seventh generation English settler on their father’s side. They grew up on unceded Ngunnawal, Ngunawal and Ngambri land. Land and country are important when coming from a diasporic identity. There is a strong desire to find spaces that sit on the margins of urban western development as these spaces often feel like an escape or refuge. Hodges uses the symbol of the Naga to explore this theme. In Thai mythology, the Naga is a serpent that lives in the Mekong river. This place is where Hodges’s mother was born making it personally significant. Culturally this part of Thailand is viewed as a liminal space between the human world and underworld. The Naga is able to cross between the two seamlessly. This has become a potent symbol in Hodges’s work as they feel caught between cultures, and often made to feel monstrous due to their identity. Mixed heritage people are historically pathologized by western culture as being caught between two worlds, destined to never belong in either. By creating work that relies on symbols of transition and transcultural exploration, Hodges carves out space for plural identity to exist as a unified whole.