Shoulder to Shoulder

 

Seriously Damaged by Attack (2009)

 

Self Portrait with Slasher Mary (2011)

 

Venus Vanitas (2009)

 

 

Contact Sheet I (2009)

 

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Contact Sheet II (2010)

 

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Contact Sheet III (2011)

 

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Standing and Passing I (2012)

 

Standing and Passing II (2012)

 

Standing and Passing III (2012)

 

Stepping Into the Archive I (2011)

 

Stepping Into the Archive II (2011)

 

Excerpt from Mary Richardson’s Laugh a Defiance (2011)

 

Stepping Into the Archive III (2011)

 

Stepping Into the Archive IIII (2011)

 

“Shoulder to Shoulder” is part performance piece, part psychological portrait. The Suffragette movement provides the historical backdrop for my social and personal investigation of disorder, characterized by a sense of disquiet I felt both in and around me. When the ‘state of things’ has an effect on ones mental well-being it is hard to unravel what is within and what without.

My jumping off point for these works was the Velázquez painting ‘The Rokeby Venus’, a piece that intrigued me and that I would restage with “Venus Vanitas”. In researching the work I discovered that in 1914 as it hung in the National Gallery in London, the Suffragette Mary Richardson took an axe to it and slashed it several times. Through the colour photo works in this series, the painting itself and this violent event in its hidden-history, were used to examine my own confusion over my various roles and their relative importance: artist, woman, citizen.

Mary Richardson’s act of destruction elicited contradictory responses in me. In her autobiography “Laugh a Defiance” she wrote: “Values were stressed from the financial point of view and not the human. I felt I must make my protest from the financial point of view, therefore, as well as letting it be seen as a symbolic act.” But this was not just the destruction of property; it was the destruction of a particular kind of property, art. Such an act, in a context in which I believed in the struggle, unnerved me and raised further questions regarding the making of art in relation to values, both economic and moral.

In the Contact Sheet works I used the Suffragette prison uniform as a means of role-playing in order to investigate notions of active citizenship. Dressed as a Suffragette prisoner I walked the streets of London handing out flyers printed with their mantra “Deeds not Words”. Turned away by the National Gallery’s security I paced the balcony with the flyer before moving on to Trafalgar Square (detail 1). In “Contact Sheet II” I play both roles, Suffragette and dropout, a performance of two halves where action challenges ambivalence. “Contact Sheet III” documents my participation in a Climate Change demonstration as I accompanied the protesters on their march and crowds of shoppers observed us from the sidelines.

Disorder describes a state, the state of a nation, a state of mind. It can also be a political decision. “Shoulder to Shoulder” is an attempt to understand the role and responsibility of the individual within the continuum of stasis and change.

The series is available as limited edition prints. Please see Editions.