(from artist statement)
‘Silent Books’ (2007)
This work is a re-engagement with the life and work of the 19th century sculptress, Camille Claudel.
I have carried my memories of Camille Claudel for 25 years, the facts of her life have remained the same, but my understanding of them has changed.
Feminist theorisations of sexual difference seem to me to offer an/other way of understanding her life and work.
While making this work I was also engaging with the writings of the art historian and feminist theorist Griselda Pollock and Bracha Ettinger, artist and psychoanalyst. Their particular psychoanalytical theorisations of sexual difference of the feminine have opened my eyes to the deepening possibility of seeing artists and artworks in a radically different way.
The title, ‘Silent Books’, not only refers to the limitations of art historical texts’ representation of Camille Claudel, but also to the 17th century French alchemical book, ‘Mutus Liber’ (Silent Books
I have created 79 paintings, one for each year of Claudel’s life.
The face of Camille at age 19 recurs throughout these works, because at 19 this young woman was involved with the sculptor, August Rodin, and this relationship coloured her life and our ability to see her as an artist and as a woman.
My method is to paint on layers of torn book fragments, notebooks and images, and then seal the final image with linseed oil between two sheets of paper creating a skin-like frame.
I am interested in looking again at the layering of experience, and the traces of meaning through time.
For me, coming to understand sexual difference is a new way of seeing, one capable of re/presenting the complexities of a woman’s life, a woman such as Camille Claudel.
This work is a bringing together of my theoretical interests and my visual practice.
I am very thankful to both the Equal Opportunities Office at UL and Women’s Studies at UL, who have given me this opportunity to share my work with you.
I would also like to thank the Diploma in Women’s Studies students who welcomed me so warmly and who have agreed to show their journals alongside my paintings. I am delighted to have the opportunity to share this space with them.