My inspiration comes from collections ranging from those of museums which cross cultural, historical and natural science boundaries, to those of the individual, whether the discerning Victorian lepidopterist, the eccentric 'collectaholic' of memorabilia, or merely the accumulated bricolage of everyday life. We all have a primal urge to collect. Having just moved my studio to a narrowboat in Oxford, I have found the perfect place for my private floating collection and where I can work to commission, and prepare for teaching and community outreach events. Current projects include the illustration of the third part of acclaimed author Sally Bayley's memoir and working with Oxford’s Story Museum on a community project at Banbury Mosque. I am also a member of the art collective Portable.
Having completed an MFA in Fine Art and an MA in History. I am now pursuing a PhD on a part-time basis. This research will combine a History thesis with a practical Fine Art component; it is entitled Through the Phallic Eyeglass: How Linnaean Botanical Taxonomy Informed Conversation Between the Plant Body and Feminine Culture. Overall I am looking at how this organisation, which was based on the number of a plant’s sexual organs and prioritised the male stamen over the female stigma, was reflected in the gendered hierarchy of the British eighteenth-century elite and expressed through their collections, pursuits and fashions.
Historically a 'Cabinet of Curiosity' contained a collection of objects which refused to fit into any recognised system of taxonomy. It was a display of the wealth and education of the collector, found within the home and constantly rearranged to inspire awe and wonder.
Today, with increased mobility, technology and globalisation, the world has shrunk and we are able to place objects within a familiar context; their power to seduce and amaze is diminished, yet we still seek out the curious and unfamiliar whether to display in our homes, or within online Pinterest galleries.
In curating my own archive, I concentrate on the museological practices of collection, categorisation, repair and display in which the modest, mundane, imperfect or impermanent is celebrated. Notions of value and preservation are accentuated by using traditional techniques such as the Japanese craft of Kintsugi, the Egyptian process of mummification or the Victorian art of taxidermy. Connections between times, materials and culture are merged to provoke a sense of unexpected fascination and to create a story.
Meticulous cataloguing systems, codes and phonetic symbols are utilised which position objects according to a multiplicity of characteristics, new sub-classes are created, connections overlap and curious juxtapositions occur. I seek to balance the familiar with the unexplained, the real with the imagined, to create something simultaneously small and intimate whilst also striking and impressive, something both beautiful and rough, something serious yet absurd.
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