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work-in-progress for the exhibition 'breaking out'

1) I thought I'd just share some of the steps in the preparation for the installation of 'breaking out' that I wrote about in a previous blog post. Here's one of the genesis points for the installation; the makeshift 'deco' of a factory weaver's work-station circa 1900 that I found dotted around the mill. Another starting point for the work was the 1892 short story 'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that I read many years ago, but which has never left my psyche. the story is still considered one of the earliest works of feminism, and for this project felt like the most pertinent work to draw on, as it dared to tackle issues such as a woman's lack of 'a life' outside the home and the oppressive forces of patriarchal society. It is a work that takes the risk of revealing a woman's interiority, hitherto rarely expressed in literature, and so the use of its main symbol, namely wallpaper felt like exactly the right support to use for the site. I have to add to the mix my own personal memories of my mother for whom the whole concept of wallpaper, the stripping, changing and repainting of was often very symbolic in her life( the assertion of autonomy, of rights over domestic space, of the opportunity for autonomy and choice, the right to experience the physical practicality of the transformation...etc..I could write a thesis about this, but won't..!)

2) The church-like configuration of the mill, with the looms installed like regular pews and the central aisle leading to the altar on the rear wall

3) the altar placed symbolically out of reach and in such a way as to incite the mill-workers to look up to their imposed idol, that 'mother of all mothers'

4) Preliminary drawings exploring the Virgin's form and consequent trans-formations

5) Fabrication of petals/vulvas and arrangement on ready-made wallpaper. One very interested cat!

6) the contemporary idol in Mary's place; the woman who has thrown open her robes and enveloping, constricting drapes, the woman who stands firmly on her rightful ground, the woman who looks straight at you as an equal, the woman whose alter has been lowered to to our own eye-level.

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