Women Speaking

Classical women with contemporary counterparts in speech.

The starting point, as with earlier works, began by re-looking at Mary Beard’s Women and Power and her explanation of a woman’s voice being silenced by her young son in public, written late 8th Century BC, into Western text through Homer’s Odyssey. In understanding the scene, Telemachus, a teenage boy sends his mother back to her women’s work and proclaims that authoritative speech – ‘muthos’ - is for men. ‘It is still the case that when listeners hear a female voice, they do not hear a voice that connotes authority; or rather they have not learned how to hear authority in it; they don’t hear muthos.’ (Beard, 2017, p30)

The idea emerged to combine a classical representation of female characters that have been subjected to some form of compromise; these include Leda, Medusa and Io, in conjunction with women from the present era, speaking out on behalf of society. The misogynistic abuse against women who use their voices to speak up and speak out in society meant that I chose to include those who use their voices such as Mhairi Black, Park Yeon-mi and Ifeoma Fafunwa.

‘Passive Observation’

800 x 600mm

Steel, acrylic, mirror

This work explores the idea of ‘tipping points’ and ‘happenings’ in history that challenge our notion of humanity. Notably, when a tipping point results in war, whereby rules and laws break down and the resulting effect of these conflicts are catastrophic in human suffering and loss. Combing two classical myths, a version written by Livy in the late first century of The Rape of the Sabine Women and the classical writing of Homer, the twelve slaves of Penelope have been used to represent a mass of women and their experience of war, abduction, rape and murder. Using the clear rule of perspective, the three dimensional drawing of one point perspective aims to disrupt our notion of what we see.

Questions to explore motherhood, the home and domesticity. Ideas surrounding work, gender and power that have emerged from the studies of second wave feminism have as yet remained problematic for mothers and arguably for all women of my own generation. I see that it is important to acknowledge and bring potential debate around a seemingly ‘old’ yet still ‘in play’ and provocative issue, albeit a first world issue. I wish to understand how the position of women and work dramatically changed after industrialisation; how this progress and change benefited the patriarchal society and created a system of dependence within a partnership particularly with the arrival of children. Is this ‘why motherhood has been represented by women artists for nearly one hundred years after the beginning of the twentieth century as a trap and a prison and seldom as a joy and liberation?’ (Gioni, 2016, p.22)