At the weekend I installed two pieces of work at Windows 204 Gallery in Bristol. The work chosen for the Twin Reflex curation series has been selected by Marcus FitzGibbon around the theme of gender, the artists have been asked to "...step outside their own sphere of experience and interpret their reactions towards 'the other'."
In my work Pin Dress (2009) and Spoon Apron (2009), the relationship I am investigating is actually one with my own sex – the women of my own family. It is a negotiation of sorts, a discussion about the expectations of our roles in the world. My grandma was born in 1908, the Pin Dress here is hers – it is handmade in silk, and it was her best dress. She grew towards womanhood in the age of women’s suffrage, whilst still being bound by the expectations of an older world. I am thinking about the legacy to me in a post-feminist world, trying to understand what we share, what we have made and what kind of inheritance has been traded. How far have I travelled from her understanding of what it is to be female in the world?
We might like to believe we have slipped the leash of our past, that we are another kind of creature, but in the daylight of our free will – such as it stands - all that we have decided to resist or reinvent revisits us in the quiet patterns of the day.
How many years in front of the glass?
Black spots tarnish its mellow silverings;
squinting and posturing, this way – that way.
I struggle into your best dress,
charcoal silk bloomed with poppies –
little stabbings flower into a steel grey tarn –
fretting in its folds, drowning
in the claustrophobia of its design;
I’m too fleshy, too pink for this,
I cry too easily, strangling myself
With my own hair lengths –
It is a beautiful dress, it fits like a coffin.
The work is in situ from 20 September - 4 October 2010.