Evelynne Hatchard is an Australian illustrator with a captivating new book call Are You My Mother? The book beautifully approaches the subject of our Heavenly Mother. The topic of our ‘Mother in Heaven‘ was recently addressed in a new essay at LDS.org, “As with many other truths of the gospel, our present knowledge about a Mother in Heaven is limited. Nevertheless, we have been given sufficient knowledge to appreciate the sacredness of this doctrine and to comprehend the divine pattern established for us as children of heavenly parents.” Hatchard lives with her family in Brisbane, Australia.
Tell us where you grew up and how you became an artist. I grew up in Queensland, Australia. Art and English were always my favourite subjects at school and I always knew I would end up doing something creative, but it took me a long time to find out exactly what. A number of years ago I was watching the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional and was, as we all are, mesmerized by the beauty, the detail, the care that was taken to create the decorations. I couldn’t help but think, “That must have cost a fortune! (Was it really worth it?)”. Then the brother offering the opening prayer said something along the lines of “We thank Thee for these beautiful surroundings, for they remind us that Thou dost deign for us to be happy.”
The Spirit carried those words straight through my heart and I knew that yes! It was worth it! That beautiful things are SO important because they are a representation of the love that God has for us. I knew that creating beautiful things was what I needed to spend my life doing, because in doing so I could be an instrument in connecting people with the love of God.
The following year I enrolled in a Diploma of Graphic Design, which I was able to complete from home while I cared for my three small children. It was so exciting for me to discover the marvellous world of design. It was like an entire universe existed that I previously had no knowledge about. I had absolutely found my bliss. Once my children were all at school I was able to continue my studies and upsize my Diploma to a Bachelor of Communication Design which I am almost finished. I sincerely believe that good design has the power to change the world–to connect people to themselves, each other and God. I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to acquire the skills I have and look forward to learning and creating so much more.
How do you see the Church’s relationship to art these days? What would you like to see moving forward? The Internet really is God’s gift to artists. Literally that is how I see it. We have the opportunity to have our work shouted from the rooftops, giving our voices reach like never before. The Church as an organization does some great things to encourage and support the arts, but the REAL magic is happening from the Church in the sense of its membership. We support, encourage and enable each other to share more, create more and to think more! I think we are headed in a fantastic direction.
Your new book Are You My Mother? is beautiful. The book came about as consequence of two events. Firstly, I was in the temple one evening and for a few different reasons I came to ponder on my Heavenly Mother before the endowment session started. As the session proceeded a deep, aching grief overcame me as I failed to see any representation of my Heavenly Mother in what was supposed to be the story of human creation. I literally sobbed through the entire session and all the way home.
That night I determined to put my trust in my Heavenly Father and began a search for answers to my questions and comfort for my heart. I was very quickly lead to a number of journal articles and discussions that provided me with many of the answers I was seeking. I came to realise that although generations of degradation had all but removed our Heavenly Mother from cultural consciousness, symbols of my Her can be found everywhere–in the temple, in the scriptures, in the world around us–I just had to learn how to read the language. I decided that night that I would be part of the movement that would help to bring Her out of obscurity and darkness. I determined that I would create artworks that depicted my Heavenly Mother not only to soothe my own soul, but for others who experienced the same yearning that I did and for the sake of future generations.
Very soon after this experience I was given an subversive art assignment for a class called “Audience, Viewpoint and Commentary”. We were to create a series of artworks which commented one of a number of topics, one of which was “Tradition–The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” I didn’t even have to think about it. I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to make good on the promise I had made to myself. I knew that it was going to be a very different approach to the assessments than my class mates were going to take, and I knew that there was a risk that it would not be understood or well received by my non-religious teacher, but in my mind the task had already been completed. I just had to get my hands to do the work.
As it happens, my work was extremely well received, supported and appreciated by both my peers and my lecturer. The Spirit was undoubtedly present as I presented my work. As part of the assessment I had to get some feedback from others about my project so I put a call out amongst my friends on Facebook to see if anyone would mind having a look at the eBook. I received over 100 requests for a copy within two days, from both members of the church and non-members. The feedback I received was incredibly positive and supportive and there were many requests for a printed copy and even an offer for publishing.
All of this happened a year ago and over these past two weeks I finally had a block of time where I had the opportunity to finish what I had started. I decided for a number of reason to self-publish and got to work designing and creating a printed version of my eBook. The book and prints were made available recently. This has been an extremely soul-satisfying experience, from the inspiration I received to embark on this project in the first place, to the joy of the creative process, to the incredibly supportive, kind and uplifting responses I received from people all over the world as they have viewed my work. I am so grateful for the ache that I felt in my heart that night in the temple which ultimately lead me here.