I make sculpture to better understand what it is to be made of flesh; to be a body. Human and non-human animals are sculpted in materials that have specific resonances: wax for fluidity, bronze for stasis. Student experiences of drawing from anatomical dissections fed my fascination with the inside of things. I often use a forensic process of cutting and opening to transform works, inviting the gaze deep into the interior.
Beauty has always been important. I’m a sucker for the hyperabundance of the Dutch still life masters. The fading petal, the skull glimpsed behind the tulips, the little rose-thorn pricks of death, just make the living even more of a feast.
The Baroque is often conceived as a riot of gilded curlicues and swooning beauty, but it also encompasses darkness, melodrama, change, heightened emotion. Hysteria, you might say, or histrionics. Feminists reclaimed hysteria; I claim the Baroque. I claim both the gilded curlicue and the dark space behind. My works enact and parody both the ‘act’ of femininity (preening and prettifying, ‘making up’) and hysteria, with its contortions, flip-flopping between seduction and ugliness, its clowning, its absurdity.
The clusters of fruit, the hanging game, the splayed peacocks and fallen swans, now appear hysterical, theatres of moral and aesthetic disgust. Such decadence, such waste. There is no contemporary equivalent of a Dutch still life, only visions of food mountains and landfill sites. The precious natural wonders of the Baroque wunderkammer, the exotic animals that populated its courtly menageries, have been plundered to extinction. The cornucopia is rotten.
It’s here, in this ambivalent, decadent space, that I am making my wunderkammer, my life's work-in-progress. The skin of a young deer flies up like a wing, viscera spill like cherries, cherries glisten like flesh. A bright twist of bronze floats from the carcass of a hare. A vessel like a heart, like a sea-shell, is poised on a coral foot, wreathed with the gilded forms of falling doves. Pleasure and dis-ease cannot help but flow together.