Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Sketch for ’Twelve hanging maidens’

Since last autumn and following on from my ‘Five perfect maidens’ I’ve been thinking and feeling my way towards a larger project titled ’Twelve hanging maidens’ and it seems to me now that with my tied shoes I’m going in the right direction. The twelve hanging maidens are of course from The Odyssee. To set the scene: Odysseus has slaughtered the 100 suitors who hoped to take his place as king of Ithaca at Penelope’s side and instructs his son Telemachus to kill the twelve maids/servants/ slaves as he feels that they have betrayed him by shamelessly sleeping with the suitors. I am not even getting into questions like ‘did they have a choice, being female slaves?’, and ‘is the term shame ever applied in relation to sexual exploits by male figures?’ but going straight to the fact that apart from one (Melantho) they are nameless and nobody mourns them and the image of them hanging side by side with their feet twitching in the air until they’d breathed their last breath has long haunted me.
Anyway. Here is another pair which I ‘finished’ just yesterday. It’s taken me a good two weeks to get this one done, partly because the tieing needs more energy (holding the shoes firmly, the continuous tieing motion with taut thread, etc.) than say crocheting which I can do lying down, but also because I’ve been trying to tackle more practical things, i.e. how how to join the shoes together more securely and how to suspend them. I am quite happy with this version, although it’s still a sketch, there’s more to work out and I have yet to decide on the colour of the thread. The first pair showcased is still my favourite, but it's good to keep playing as something new emerges with each different pair: here I’ve let myself be led by the red-fleshy tone of the cotton which seemed to demand slight digressions into more curved contours.
(When I first read the Greek myths as a teenager there weren’t any alternative versions, but thanks to feminism we now have authors reading/re-imagining/rewriting some of the female figures, breathing new life into them by allowing them a complexity that is sadly lacking in Homer’s version. Christa Wolf’s Kassandra is one of my all-time favourite books, and now there is Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad.)

PS. Following Catherine Scriven's example (thank you, Catherine!) I've entered my Four furry maidens in the Saatchi-showdown. You can view this work and vote for it or check out other artists here.
Everybody can enter, so go on.


Kruse said...

Oh, your work is wonderful! I have'nt been visiting for a while and am so happy to see all this work. The shoes are so sad, and beautiful. What I find so moving about your work is its bitter-sweet edge. It is the transformation of grief, sadness, anger, vulnerability into something that is utterly beautiful. It is what makes human activity, the process of thinking and making, become something numinous.

cally said...

I popped in for a look last night, about 2am, but was too tired to express my WOW at the amount of incredible work you've done over the summer! You really are an inspiration. So glad you have managed to get so much made.

I only looked at pics but I will return to read your posts when I've more energy, so maybe a while yet, but I'm looking forward to it, I've been missing your blog hugely.

Catherine said...

I am glad you entered your furry maidens, they will have my vote. I look forward to seeing the development of 12 hanging maidens. The physical involvement is so much part of the work for me. I can appreciate the tautness and effort you talk about. But maybe because you do not have excess energy your work is compact, precise with no frill except the intentional. I shows and make is greater.

redredday said...

Kruse says it perfectly! i agree, i agree!!

very excited about these Twelve Hanging Maidens! especially now that i just finished the Penelopiad book you mentioned. Atwood is such a great storyteller. makes me want to go and read more Greek myths. these gods and mortals are all so scandalous.

and i shall also vote for your furry maidens! :).

Kirsty said...

I love the tied shoes, I think they've really got something strong.

MoonChild said...

hello ! long time not here, coz the school had started. 6)u(^
i hope i wont miss many great things from you~!
i wish through out the study i can learn how to appreciate an art work in different angles later, coz now, i can just tell if i like an artwork or not, and hardly to give a comment although i do get some feeling through the artwork!
i really appreciate that you are able to express yourself accurately through both artworks and words~!
everytime i come here, i just feel like i was taught a lesson! you are my teacher outside school~!!