A collection of dogs gather, two adults and one pup. Forgetting their pack, they articulate themselves through the nuclear family unit that domesticated them. Cast charcoal paws frantically draw self portraits while quiet rubber tongues erase them. Wooden armatures, that signal dog bodies, are hijacked and repurposed as drawing machines. Traces of Crufts apparatus, playground equipment and bones fight for attention as the drawings go through a violent additive and reductive process.
Current work thinks through normativity and traditional family values through the figure of the pet. In the past, my work has expanded the borders of the pet subject position to include children finding similarities to the dog such as awards, training, treats and trauma. Rooted in classical disciplines of sculpture, drawing and printmaking my work situates itself in the familiar while reaching towards the bizarre. Drawings generate new sculptural ideas with entropic momentum.
I stared making the series ‘Neonates’ from my exchange in Canada, as a response to feminist and queer critiques of the nuclear family, normatively and child commodification. I was particularly drawn to the work of theorist Jack Halberstam, and their book ‘The Queer Art of Failure.’ where failure opens up possibilities of radical negation. I was interested in the ways in which children were trained into normativity. As theorist Kathryn Bond Stockton, notes in her book ‘The Queer Child, or Growing sideways in the twentieth century’ children often ‘grow sideways as well as up.’ I collected an assortment of children’s onesies, garments littered with signs of gender, commodity and branding. I make these soft garments cold by turning them inside out and filling them with plaster. After the fabric is cut away and removed, the inside space is captured, a kind of surrogate or stand in for a child is left. These works are made in small groups, I think of them as sort of like siblings. The plaster picks up the colour, staining the casts. Stitching, zips and remnants of branding, are mirrored in the plaster body, acting as a reflection or double.