Photography by Grant Hancock and Mick Bradley
For some time my practice has employed the language of fabric, embroidery and stitching to examine themes of death, fear and religion – themes that are satisfyingly sympathetic with the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, the primary inspiration for this body of work. Among the works I referenced were Berenice, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Black Cat, The Telltale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Premature Burial and Ligeia.
In responding to these texts, I immersed myself in Poe’s world, collecting and collating elements of interest and identifying recurring themes. Poe’s tales are populated with pale, wan women wasting away, gory deaths and almost deaths and the sort of cold, clammy fears we wake to in the small hours. His heroes (if one can use such a weighty term) are pensive, pathetic, calculating, foolhardy and above all obsessive and their actions are variously rewarded or punished in delightfully morbid ways.
I felt that it was important to approach the lavish, overt language and content of Poe with a more neutral, reserved palette of materials. In this way, works referring to such things as severed limbs, axe murderers and bodies rising from their death bed are tempered with floral fabrics and patchwork quilting techniques.
The heavy themes of obsession and fixation, premature entombment and cunningly concealed murder are nevertheless lightened with humour. A protagonist’s unhealthy fixation on his poor wife’s pearly whites may manifest in my universe as a giant stained molar, casually sitting astride a chair; and in the face of so many hasty burials, the simple gesture of checking a pulse becomes of paramount importance.