Dummy: a model or replica of a human being. an object designed to resemble and serve as a substitute for the real. a stupid person. a person who cannot speak.
These 5ft x 4ft drawings were made in the project space at METAL in just 8 days during a 2 week residency in April 2017. This intensity of their making means the works were and are in a state of flux, raw and unresolved, at the moment of their display to the public on the 8th day. Usually I revisit/rework drawings over weeks and months; with this work there was really no time to reflect or to ‘process’ their content.
The images were carefully constructed then quickly, loosely, worked with charcoal, emulsion, acrylic and ink. Two motifs run through the series: the ‘live’ woman/dancer and the human-object dummy (a mindless plaything?) …’the interaction between the inert mannequin with its suggestively animate presence and the living figure. The dummy seems to reflect back on the viewer the folly and fallibility of the human condition ‘silently compliant’ lifelike yet lifeless, realistic yet incurably unreal’. (Jane Monroe ‘Silent Partners’)
Theirs is an intense and complex relationship.
I have long used the dummy/mannequin/doll in my work – I’m fascinated by its possibilities for reinvention, a blank canvas for subversive imagination. It is a figure that can be handled and manipulated…a ‘still life’ in its truest sense; inert yet a ‘vitalising’ force in my self-actualisation.
‘We are in the era of the substitute ‘everything that is uncanny that ought to have remained secret and hidden but has come to light’ (Jane Munro ‘Silent Partners’ Yale University Press 2015)
I utilise it to play out psychological dramas..as a human substitute, a symbolic alienation, an ‘i-dol’.
The woman (self) is dressed to party: the party might not have got started, it may be in mid-flow…or it might be over. My imagination is inexhaustible when filtered through the dummy; it may change its outward gender, age or form…but it is always there.
The project room became my studio for 2 weeks: it presented a large window directly on to the park and throughout my time there, people were looking in. This really activated the studio into a performative space and blurred the boundaries of public and private. I enjoyed that aspect of the work space: exchanging smiles and gestures with people, parents encouraging their children to come and have a look. Everyone can relate to drawing, particularly figurative drawing, it needs no explanation. People were watching me whether I was drawing, thinking or just drinking tea. Alongside my work, I too was on show…