“…I realized that my mother had done all these things for me before I had remembered. I was fed; I was washed; I was clothed; I was taught to speak and given a thousand other things, over and over again, hourly, daily, for years. She gave me everything before she gave me nothing.”1
The objects I choose to work with offer me a means to understand relationships. The way I represent and re-contextualise these objects, is a way for me to make connections through individuals and time, using these works to develop narratives or suggest memories. Building on Sherrie Turkle’s idea of ‘evocative objects’2, my practice sits within the field of social anthropology, as objects become props that I use to understand the people around me, or to engage in communication; exchange of ideas or memories.
The scale, texture and imagery used reflects my practical daily experiences and responsibilities; the often small, regular moments I take to assemble a work, refine ideas and consolidate through the object or process, taking time, repetition and frequent attention to detail. These processes reference traditional domestic tasks usually undertaken by women. Artists such as Mierle Laderman Ukeles with her Maintenance3 projects which highlight the invisible labour that goes on to enable a city to function; and Louise Bourgeois soft sculptures and cloth books which reference her memories and familial relationships4, have influenced my thinking about how to exist as a mother, woman and artist all at once.
Hand making feels central to the work at this stage, bringing to mind labour, social expectations and gender roles. This scale consideration is in part practical and modest – relating to the time involved and consideration, and labour to produce it. Using embroidery, garments, drawing and various techniques of domestic small work I bring ideas of the domestic, the private into a public space.
By intentionally attempting to engage the viewer in the process or installation, the work may also inhabit the fields of relational aesthetics or participatory practice. Depending on the project, the ‘art’ of the work may well be the experience of people coming together, sharing stories, exchange of memories, or it may be part of experiencing a finished object, such as a cloth book.
1. Solnit, Rebecca. The Faraway Nearby, 2013.
2. Turkle, Sherry, ed. Evocative Objects: Things We Think With. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2007.
3. Wetzler, Rachel. ‘Meet the Artist Who Called out a Museum by Scrubbing the Floor for Hours’. Timeline, 15 December 2016. https://timeline.com/mierle-ukeles-cleaning-museum-64d274a0a19c.
4. Coxon, Ann. Louise Bourgeois. Tate, 2010.
‘Aesthetica Magazine – Louise Bourgeois: Femininity, Botany and Family’. Aesthetica Magazine. Accessed 2 May 2018. /louise-bourgeois-hauser-and-wirth/.
Bone et al., Florence. Twenty-Six School Stories for Girls. London: The ‘Girl’s Own Paper’ Office, n.d.
Bourriaud, Nicolas, Simon Pleasance, Fronza Woods, and Mathieu Copeland. Relational Aesthetics. Collection Documents Sur l’art. Dijon: Les Presses du réel, 2002.
Cooke, Rachel. ‘Interview: Louise Bourgeois’. The Observer, 14 October 2007, sec. Art and design. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2007/oct/14/art4.
Hackman, Rose. ‘“Women Are Just Better at This Stuff”: Is Emotional Labor Feminism’s next Frontier?’ The Guardian, 8 November 2015, sec. World news. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/08/women-gender-roles-sexism-emotional-labor-feminism.
Hickey, Dave. 25 Women : Essays on Their Art, 2015.
Monague et al., M. L. The Victory Book for Girls. London: Juvenile Productions Ltd, n.d.
Scardi, Gabi, Lucy Orta, GlaxoSmithKline, and Royal Academy of Arts (Great Britain), eds.
Aware: Art Fashion Identity. Bologna, Italy: Damiani, 2010.