I am a female artist based in Belfast. My compulsion to bind shapes, objects and words together
formulates a reflection of self-image. Blending histories of lives, losses and events, the finished pieces
act as ‘sign posts’ or ‘bodies’ that I create and appropriately discard. The lifespan of a piece corresponds
with its validity. Therapeutically, the creative activity organises emotions, notions and motions into
My work currently concerns the hyper-sexualised image based reality in which we live. I react to this
disturbing imagery, from overtly sexual advertising and its objectification of gender as a sexual object to be
bought, sold, bartered, stolen or exchanged by others. Prominent fashion brands exploit gender stereotypes in
order to endorse the product they are selling. The consumption of this imagery materialises every day, from
the seemingly banal application of makeup and hair styling to the violent pursuit of perfection via plastic
surgery and putting the body through copious quantities of pain in order to reach the illusion of aesthetic
Using found and fabricated objects, I have been constructing a series of site-specific installations, to investigate
the origins of desire, arranging them in such a way to explore the relationships between consumption, desire
and perversion. I purposefully choose objects or subject matter that will resonate with the viewer’s everyday life; my use of sausage meat, latex, beads and sugar in ‘Dance Dance Dance’, a recent installation in which I was exploring the experience of an uncanny, fabricated aesthetic.
The ideas around desire and the compulsion and consumption that I focus on cite Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytical research, and coining, of the term ‘paranoid schizoid position’. This term relates to the constellation of anxieties, defences and internal and external object relations formed in early infancy. The main characteristic of the paranoid-schizoid position is the’ splitting’ of both self and object into good and bad with little or no integration between them. The ‘good’ object activates the benevolent desire to give pleasure and the ‘bad’ object provokes the malevolent desire to cause pain. Through healthy development the idea that an object can be all good or all bad usually disintegrates. The paranoid-schizoid position unconsciously remains present throughout the infant’s life, the internal object exists in every body and is used to compartmentalise the good from the bad in relation to self. In relation to the cultural landscape of capitalism, complex processes of persuasion towards the ideals of perfection and completeness are used in advertising to generate the idea that we must all strive for perfection or completeness through forms of consumption.
In Klein’s ‘Development of the Child’, she explores the capacity one has to internalise an object of desire as something in which to inflict pain or pleasure onto; this is reflected in adult relationships and depends on our relationship to our primary care giver. I have been using narrative and imagery associated with the treatment of objects of desire found in the media, pornography, music, memories, conversations, and court proceedings in order to develop my work contextually.
Through a series of explicit 'lipstick drawings', I began experimenting with narrative. By piercing the drawings with thread and saturating them with lipstick I am giving the subject a voice, exercising ownership over the female body. My intention in making work relating to sexual trauma is problematic as it entails a level of personal exposure, highlighting the ubiquity surrounding the malicious social taboo of violent misogyny that affects so many women. I do not condone emotional or sexual abuse, I am not celebrating it, I am documenting the progress of regaining a voice; ultimately,
Building on the personal material represented in my drawings, I began looking at other societal artefacts that reflected a level of objectification; the ‘reader’s wives’ phenomenon that featured at the back of soft-core pornographic magazines from 1970’s, reflects the level of perversion I am investigating through my work. In relation to the Kleinian concept of the internal object, by sending a picture of one’s wife to be published for other people to see, whether the wives were consenting to this, is a sadistic activity. The wife becomes internalised as a ‘bad object’ that needs to be punished, humiliated and exposed. This could be interpreted as self-destructive in relation to a woman consenting to her own exploitation.
‘Sadism: the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.’
(Oxford English Dictionary)
‘Masochism may be classed with physical exercise, intoxication, meditative techniques, and perhaps even a fan or spectator.’ (Baumeister, Masochism as Escape from Self, 1988). Therefore, the process of viewing oneself in vanity could be associated as a masochistic activity, through the ritualistic act of one’s own spectatorship. I explored this idea through performance to camera, synthesizing vanity and voyeurism. Visually, I wanted to create a somewhat captivating visual narrative that gripped the viewer into watching.
I am investigating the degree of control we have within this realm of hyper-sexualisation. Through a relationship with sound and using found and fabricated objects as props within video installation I wish to develop an aesthetic that feels contextually relevant that is problematic as much as it is empowering in order to reflect the issues around the hyper-sexualised image based society in which we live.