Photography by Mick Bradley
Heresy and Butchery
The mystification of death and our emotional responses to it, forms the conceptual realm of my practice. While the afterlife, the occult, Satanism and witchcraft have been recurring themes, the mythologised devil, often represented as a goat forms the starting point for this body of work. The work in Damn your eyes extrapolates the form of the goat into bawdy and bizarre configurations suggestive of rituals, unnatural acts and mutations and thus subjects it to quiet acts of malice and butchery. Despite the ‘sinister’ overtones, humour is never far from my mind and I aim to tread a line between the macabre and the comical, perhaps erring more on the side of a visual pun or cruel joke. In Booth an overt sexual allusion is present as the half priest, half witch-like cloak and hat positions the face and the arse end of a goat together in a lewd union.
The game of substituting parts becomes a process of material surgery. Using found or fabricated objects in lieu of body parts I become a sort of butcher, slicing off bits deemed irrelevant or redundant. A lamp for a head, a tripod box for legs and body, skewers for tongues – these are all in a state of material make-believe – mimicking the thing they replace yet still retaining their authority and identity as discreet objects.
In these composite forms fabric becomes a signifier, denoting animal parts; hence a lampshade covering seems more skin-like and a kindle of firewood is suggestive of both branch and limb. The works as a whole attempt to evoke both the domestic and the barbaric, suggesting a world where firewood could easily incinerate a heretic, or simply light a home fire. Ultimately, it is this push and pull of gentility and brutality that both spurs me on and stays my hand.