Painting statement, October 2020
I make colourful and dark figurative paintings that grapple with cultural plots that contain and restrain women. The figures are often inspired by historical works including medieval illuminated manuscripts, Bosch, Michelangelo drawings and perhaps unconsciously Charlotte Saloman’s ‘Life or theatre?’ Reworking visual references drawn from the past to explore new possibilities for the future, I choreograph strong female protagonists, mothers and children into imaginative realms where they can challenge domestic legacies, and draw attention to inequality.
The paradox and ambivalence of religion and becoming a young mother drove me to despair, and madness. I survived by reinventing myself, and my story and discovering voice and visibility. Knowing our stories can be rewritten and changed has especial significance for women and mental health. I create human forms moving and engaged everyday activities, in surreal backdrops. They are made to poetically enunciate and create a new language that portrays our potential to be many different people and live different lives.
My paintings aim to valorize women’s everyday experience and change cultural narratives that simultaneously trivialise women’s caring and domestics roles and create pressure to live up to unrealisable ideals. I want to show that we can change and challenge conventional stories of self and cope with the contradictions. The complex scenes I depict are often dark, and dystopian yet the textures and colours are joyful. I paint paradoxes to help us to think differently and to engender empathy- for our selves as well as others.
Image: A much needed perspective on anxiety, oil and bitumen on canvas, 70x50x4cm