Moving away from my usual practice of illustrative, mixed media work on paper, I have begun working with copper sheet and oxidising processes. I thought I would share some of my initial copper work in progress, and let you know more about the ideas behind the development of this new body of work.
My intention is to compose a series of portraits that explore the notions of the Icon and the Archetype, addressing the vulnerabilities and insecurities of womanhood, motherhood and creativity within the contemporary, post-feminist context.
The work is following on from my 2015 work on paperTamaa large scale watercolour painting that took inspiration from field research on the Greek island of Samos, in the north-eastern Aegean. This painting referenced my ancestral history on the island, and spiritual talismans, symbols and rituals that originate and evolve from ancient mythology through to contemporary orthodox practices.
Across cultures, and throughout history and mythology, the Feminine is revered as an archetype of wisdom, intuition and creation. She is nature, the sky and the earth, and the quintessence that personifies life itself. In Jungian terms, she is the compelling force seeking to unite the conscious ego with the unconscious forces of the wider Self. She is the connection to Source.
When we look at the Madonna and Child, a reoccurring motif in art throughout history, we are faced with the many roles of Woman; the youthful virgin, pure and innocent; the mother figure, fertile and nurturing; and the spiritual vessel, wise and creative. The Child is full of vulnerability and promise. To some extent, we are engaging with the notions of self and other.
In thinking about this, the prolific work and life of Louise Bourgeois comes to mind. Throughout her (incredibly expansive) career she explored these roles primarily through archetypal symbolism that was rooted in her lived and gendered experiences as a daughter, wife and mother. Her works express the duality of estrangement and intimacy, awkwardness and tenderness, inadequacy and promise. Bourgeois was also admired as an icon, and a Madonna figure herself, however, this was something she rejected, saying The feminists took me as a role model, as a mother. It bothers me. I am not interested in being a mother. I am still a girl trying to understand myself. In my opinion, her dismissal of her own experiences as a woman becoming a commodity of sorts, highlights how women are still not afforded privacy in their personal lives and choices.
Through my own work, I deal with the human condition, and in actuality, I am making an attempt to better understand my self, and those in the world around me. I aim to examine the polarities of isolation and connection; truth and falsehood; history and mythology, typically through portraiture and symbolism.
In the development of these new copper works I will favour materiality and process over representational depictions; taking a departure from use of familiar emblems in historical symbols or iconography, to adopt personal and ambiguous references an approach that takes influence from Bourgeois, which will allow for fluidity and spontaneity (ie. freedom).
Copper Work in Progress