Portrait of the Artist’s Mother is a memoir and an examination of the politics of disability. The author describes the pressure from medical institutions to undergo screening during pregnancy and assumptions that a child with Trisomy 21 should not live, even though people with Down syndrome do live rich lives. Years later, Fiona’s son, Fraser, has become an artist. His prize-winning paintings have been exhibited in galleries in Sydney and Canberra.
How does a mother get from the grieving silence of the birthing room through the horrified comments of other mothers to the applause at gallery openings? This is a story of commitment to the idea that all people, including those who are ‘less than perfect,’ have a right to be welcomed into this increasingly imperfect world.