The murder of Sharon Tate by The Family in August 1969 was one of the first truly frightening events I can recall. I remember trying to banish Charles Manson’s face, looking madly out from my parents’ newspaper, from my mind as I went to sleep.
Faerie Folke 2 uses an image of Manson’s Family at play near their home, Spahn Ranch, California. The change in scale places the family in some kind of enchanted world, as indeed they were. Richard Dadd is in my mind, for the enchantment and the psychosis.
The family is a repeated subject in my work, as is the home. But it is family and home as a place of dysfunction and repression. The cottages and interiors in my paintings, manifestations of the feminine, are cluttered and stifling. I have used history as a metaphor for the repressive family, in particular the Austro-Hungarian Empire, out of which the psychoanalytic movement was born.
The dysfunctional family is often the subject of melodrama. Mrs Scott and the Party and Blue Coat 1 are both taken from stills of Douglas Sirk films. The Gift of Shit, April Luv and Mary-Anne Waiting all respond to the claustrophobic, melodramatic world of Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
A woman waiting and incarcerated is a common theme in Victorian writing and painting. Mariana waits for the return of her betrothed, whilst the Lady of Shalott (Three Paces Though, Leaves Upon Her Falling Light and Lady of Shalott (red sky)) is an artist/weaver sequestered in her tower until she glimpses Sir Launcelot and her world is overturned.
There is a different world in The Love of Beasts. This is an exterior world where mind and body, human and beast are brought together in celebrations of sexuality.
Women as powerful and creative appear sometimes as queens, where an attribute (the microphone, guitar, male attire) may stand in for the phallus. Other times, as in Absent Friends respected musicians and writers become models for portraits on wood. Men may be presented as princes, parodies of the perfect lover, or as patricarchs.
Paintings of folk traditions, or folk inventions (The Men of Cornwall, the Resistors and Garland Dance) use early photos of English folk traditions or folk inventions and were inspired by the 2008 crash and the Occupy Movement. The Hungry Ghosts, taken from images in lifestyle features, respond to our culture’s hunger and excess, of which our desire for the perfect moment and the perfect lover form part.