My work focuses on drapery, a progression from the incidental objects in portraiture and still life to a subject in its own right. The complexity of the folds of fabric, and the subtleties of white on white, are issues that have captivated many artists before me. The complex and ambiguous shapes of drapery are sensually appealing, and I also use the subject as a metaphor for flesh, for spirituality, for femininity. I have explored the subject in both 2D and 3D works: photographs, drawings, watercolour, oil, acrylic paintings; and fabric, clay, steel, aluminium and bronze sculptures.
My recent sculptural work has focused on using draped ceramic forms that are evocative of the vulva. I have also begun adding other elements to the works, by using contrasting textures such as wood and bone pieces which are moulded and carved from stoneware or terracotta clays. Since commencing the Dunmoochin residency my work has started to integrate and reflect elements of the bush, the textures of bark, the micro-landscapes of moss, pebbles and fallen leaves. Adding drapery into these surroundings feels like a statement of humankind’s presence, an imposition that covers and conceals. The drapery has an artificial presence, a different kind of beauty to the bush, and I find the contrasts exciting and inspiring.
I also draw inspiration from a wide variety of images of moving fabric, such as Loie Fuller, a dancer from the early 1900s; Daniel Wurtzel, an artist who uses strategically located fans to blow fabric into beautiful arabesques; or the youtube video of the Pupping tornado where hundreds of metres of canvas are seen majestically spinning through the air.
My work rests on the concept of the drapery imitating what culture dictates should be hidden. The drapery becomes a metaphor for the flesh, as in the work of Gianlorenzo Bernini. As a response to the Rococo opulence of Bernini’s sculptures, my work focuses on the drapery alone, the folds of fabric, isolated, and viewed as an object in itself. Where the decorative and romantic aspects of Bernini’s works are almost overwhelming, isolating just the drapery allows us to focus on and ponder the meaning inherent in it, as it is, not as a support to a larger artwork.
I have also been influenced by the sensuality of Georgia O’Keefe’s work, and indeed, use one of her most recognisable motifs in the form of the pelvic bone. Her subject matter is invariably infused with an undeniable sensuality, an obvious tactility. Lastly, feminism is a great influence in my life and my work, but particularly the short story by Barbara Baynton, ‘The Chosen Vessel,’ which explores many of the ways that women are seen as vessels or repositories of the experiences and expectations of men, rather than as people within their own right.bush.