Sunday, January 22, 2012
A breath of fresh Collage
Collage of found images
I was recently reading a well known text written by a well known, if not controversial and somewhat batty feminist. A reference the author made to the subject of work in both a domestic and employed/paid context, made me think about creative commissions going back hundreds of years. We all know so much about the grandiose work of the male Artists propositioned to paint chapel ceilings and sculpt gargantuan monuments. However, while these Artists and highly skilled Craftsmen certainly made their mark on the evolution of Art and aesthetics (across all cultures/continents - not just referring to to the gilded West here) - why do we not hear so much about the similar work done by the hands of women? There is an interesting connection between Art and gender roles that is bleeding evident yet sometimes subtle. Fashion and 'wearable art' through history presents an apt example.
Fashion has a complex and multi-layered history branching off into categories encompassing identity (individual/social/national), everyday customs/practices, specific purpose/function, decoration and sex. An expert could go on and on and on ...my brief segue here borrows from an elective class I took in my 2nd year at Q.C.A 'Fashion and Art'. This collage work was made from a collection of images accumulated at different times, but they seemed to fall together. A lot of the images I collect have some sort of representation or reference to Women...or even the visual ideas of both feminism and femininity . In Silken Signatures you see three women crouched and hunched down making a rug. They were not in a domestic setting in the original image, they were working in a Bulgarian rug...workhouse ('factory' just doesn't fit this context somehow). The women appear to overlap onto an exquisitely embroidered Men's coat (of a French royal wardrobe I believe). The colourful and luxuriant silken thread in the coat frames the modestly working women in the centre. An opening at the top where a crisp, ruffled colour should be, grey Cygnets poke out over blue water that seemingly filters down into the clothes worn by the woman in the centre. The baby Swans allude to the 'nest' or home and the role of the mother in rearing offspring. At the same time there is an irony in the pronunciation of the 'Sig'prefix/origin and Cyg-net. This piece refers to the anonymous female authors, artists and creators that held no title and inscribed no signature in their craft work through the ages. That is not to say elements of this issue do not exist today - think about the 35 year old career woman on the childless-egg-freeze guilt trip.