This project began with a series of oil paintings, the first painting of a huge red beetle standing over a sleeping woman, emerged from a sort of woken dream fantasy. As the project continued it developed towards being an exploration of the relationship between repulsion and attraction and when a repulsion can transform into a situation of being silently seduced. The artworks and written works were completed simultaneously and so influenced each other greatly. They explore a ‘lonely and insolent’ woman’s journey through into a manic state of being overtaken by a mental obsession with all what disgusts her. The project became a distillation of a psychological horror into a still format.
The garment collection came later, a development towards a wearable reflection of the project. The clothes make use of materials such as rope and leather cord creating a bound association in the knitted pieces and then with the embroidered work there was the opportunity to be much more literal and pictorial whereas the knitted pieces often become quite abstract. The focus was much more on clear direct imagery, a horrific fantasy portrayed through garments.
‘The secret soft depths of silence.’
The written work in this project was influenced mainly by ‘lyrical outburst’ forms of writing such as explored by Anaïs Nin in ‘The House Of Insest’ and Leonora Carrington in ‘Down Below’, as well as the dream like sequences in the center section of Ingeborg Backmann’s ‘Malina’ and Werner Shroeter’s film adaptation. Visually a main source of influence came from a small collection of Salavdor Dalí paintings entitled ‘Marquis de Sade’ which show women in varying states of distress, including one image of a chained woman with huge oversized ants crawling across her legs. The painting ‘The Perversions of Quiet Girls’ takes influence from this image. The garment designs began with a simple translation of this painting idea into a free hand embroidered silk slip dress with the insects crawling in a similar fashion. The colour pallet for the garments was influenced by the paintings; beetle colours composed with flesh tones, pale skin pinks approaching white in coldness.
Mythological descents into the underworld also took a key role in influence over this work, including that of Persephone, Odysseus and Psyche, specifically as told by Kathy Acker in her piece ‘Psyche’s Journal’ which was written for the exhibition catalogue to Cathy de Monchaux’s 1997 White Chapel show. The piece explores the myth of Eros and Psyche with Psyche reading an abstract projection of her life in a book as she lives it, going through the story of the myth whilst simultaneously walking through the corridors of the exhibition and experiencing the artworks. Aesthetic and film inflences also include Sergi Parajanov’s The Colour Of Pomegranates, Andrzej Zulowski’s Szamanka and Possession as well as Pasolini’s Salò.