Figuring value

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This blog is also live on the Artcore website: http://artcoregallery.org.uk/category/home-residency/delpha-hudson/

I travelled home today. I live in West Cornwall, very near Land’s End. At home I gazed at the garden sculpture we inherited when we moved in – the bits we didn’t give away like the dogs and pigs. The classical figures of women with their patina of age have a certain charm though I am seeing them today with new eyes. One of women, their arms alluringly raised, supporting a bird bath, another, a woman in classical dress reaching over. Jus t like everyone I take for granted that this is the way that sculpture portrays women.

The public sculpture in Derby that I’ve seen so far includes the typical heroic male (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and the charming ‘Boy with a Goose’ but also some women. Unusually the war memorial is a woman holding a baby. War memorials mostly represent those that died, not the women that bore sons who went off to war so it is a touching tribute. I also found Florence Nightingale on the side of a building. I was glad to find these two tributes to women, – even if there are 3 other men commemorated around the opposite side of the building to Florence, reflecting the usual gender inequality when it comes to civic statues.

What is the significance of monuments? Do we think differently about our lives when we look at our ‘heroes’ and aspire to be like them? Or are they irrelevant?

I’m interested in how we change public perceptions of value by representing what is really important in our lives – like family and home, rather than stereotypes and heroic deeds. Our families and homes and our domestic experiences form us and make us who we are. Truly great deeds are the simplest kind acts performed at home. In turn,could changing the way we value home and domesticity, change the way we value our selves and our families?

Starting to play with materials in the studio at Artcore I dripped some sticky molasses onto rice paper. Drawing and exploring figures in this way is part of my practice. I usually drip-draw figures with industrial bitumen paint as a metaphor for fluidity, and change. Molasses has the same viscous qualities but is ephemeral and not so smelly. Soaking into the rice paper the image would soon disappear -the opposite of clay sculpture figures, and perhaps an apt commemoration of invisible people and invisible lives.

Of course I’ve started some new tiny clay figures (10-15cm) as well, and I’m thinking I should make an intervention – like knitting some socks or something – for my garden sculpture. A little like putting cones on the heads of public statues –  interventions, that have the potential to change how we think about things.

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