I began making this work for the Animal/Advance exhibition at the beginning of the year. Initially three books were planned but due to academic commitments I could not complete the other two. The brief was pretty open so I wanted to do something that related to my Little Red Riding-Hood thesis last year. Basically the starting concept for the intended series was the use of werewolfism as a metaphor for puberty.
This makes sense because:
- Puberty = growth of androgenic hair
- The pattern of the menstrual cycle is traditionally linked with the moon
- Menstruation is linked to more angry/antisocial moods, similar to the werewolf’s lunar-induced episodes
For this reason I decided to use cut-outs to create a page-through mouth on the cover, which symbolically ‘bites’ the intended viewer upon picking up the book. After this the viewer goes into the mind of the wolf, past the surface layer of sheer hunger into the deeper levels of its consciousness as the ‘curse’ begins to take hold. The work of Angela Carter was a big influence, both in this work and my thesis. Her story “The Company of Wolves” is obviously a more sexual retelling of the Red Riding-Hood fable, and I wanted to play with that.
I wanted there to be an overarching theme of consumption – both with food and sexually. Unfortunately I could not show every page in the book but it is littered with the detritus of kills until the sexual images begin to dominate as one pages through the work.
A little preview of what I’m working on.at the moment. It’s been taking a long time as I have to balance it with all my schoolwork as well … Hoping to submit it to some upcoming exhibition.
For this piece I tracked the development of a maggot, from the fly laying the egg to the maggot forming a pupa and emerging from it as a fly itself. The book got eaten away by said maggot more and more as it went along; and also began to show stains of decay. I buried it in a shallow grave for a week to make it more authentic.
So we had our graduate exhibition.
I was set up in the centre of the first venue, and initially people didn’t realise it was a separate piece (there was another girl whose work covered all the walls around me). I’d chosen the most medical-looking stainless-steel contraption I could find. In actuality, it was a painting tray; but it served my purposes very well. I got a lot of latex gloves for people to use in case of dirty hands and placed them on the lower rack.
The reception was really good; many people sought me out personally and made positive comments. Thanks to the wonderful This Cardinal Maroon for taking the time to page through every work and read every word. That’s dedication; I am honoured. Seeing as this is the culmination of four years of work and my first public show, it was truly something to see a fair percentage of the decent-sized crowd clustered around the smallest pieces of the entire graduate show, all waiting for a turn with seven books. It was wonderful.
The Little Books of Growing Up: Puberty.
This book deals with the changes that occur during adolescence. These are divided into five chapters:
- Adrenarche — hormones begin to sway the body; developing androgenic hair, sweat glands, acne
- Gonadarche — growth of sex organs (ovaries, testicles)
- Thelarche — breast development in females
- Pubarche — growth of puibc hair
- Menarche — first menses
- Spermarche — development of sperm
Not all images/explanatory text is shown here; of course, but you get the idea. The drawings were done in ballpoint pen inside a 10.5 x 6.5cm Moleskine sketchbook.
The Little Books of Growing Up: Childhood.
This book deals with the changes that happen in the body during childhood; such as the fusing of bones (children are born with over 270 bones while adults only have 230), changes of proportion to facilitate balance, the growth of permanent teeth, etc.
The drawings and text (not pictured) were all done in a 10.5 x 6.5cm Moleskine sketchbook, so it was a fairly small area to work with.
Or: the little book of horrible death.
Just a little backstory: I found this book on forensic medicine that has some of the loveliest pictures in it. Of course, it’s all of hideous wounds and dead people, but there is one image of the trachea of a drowned man; filled with shells. Such a gorgeous juxtaposition — pretty little shells, washed into a dead man’s throat like those holiday souvenirs.
I recreated the images, superimposing their injuries onto myself/a willing model. Each drawing has a page over it with a cut-out square, framing the image like those labelled pictures you find in textbooks. Below the square is a label: “Figure 143 (a) - passenger in front seat thrown against dashboard.” “Figure 55 - deceased was kicked to death.” “Figure 62 - made with a heavy iron spigot.”
The pages are also interspersed with other quotes from the book. My favourite I must share with you:
"A powerfully-built man, six feet in height, under the mistaken impression that he had venereal disease, attempted to hang himself.
The rope broke at its attachment to the bough, but the drop tightened the rope around his neck so much that it could not be freed.
He then travelled 150yards to a barbed-wire fence and attempted to sever the rope on one of the barbs.
He cut a large wound in his neck without freeing the rope and then succumbed to asphyxia.”
So this is my most recent little book; the “book autopsy,” which is still not finished yet because I need to get some suitable thread.
But basically you open it and see a bunch of organs all nicely layered and body-cavitylike. Or that’s the idea.
I take photos with my cellphone, because I’m a serious artist EDIT: Proper photos here.
Geiger’s Alien: my transformation.