The novella The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) provides a framework for images and influences that relate to my practice and Dress 09. Its author Charlotte Perkins Gilman powerfully conveys a claustrophobic world inhabited by a Victorian wife passively imprisoned by her husband. Invited by the Crafts Council to curate this exhibition, I’ve selected seven quotes from it that pertain to connections both literary and artistic, and examples of my own work that have led to the making of Dress 09.More about Tom Gallant
I am interested in work that deals with beauty, the erotic and the obscene, using known devices and motifs. I aim to show that the aesthetics of craft and design are used to create a deceptive layer that allows the viewer into the work before they are aware of what they are really seeing.
Since 2005, I have been researching and making work exploring the languages of pattern that reflect the control of nature and the colonial forces that appropriated through collecting. As with the language behind the folk tale The Yellow Wallpaper has been central to that exploration.”
My research into folk tales led me from traditional fairy tale author Charles Perrault to contemporary scholar Jack Zipes, from Cinderella to porn film Houston 500. The nature of telling as a conceptual framework enables me to make connections between a visual vocabulary and a historical platform. At its core lies the abusive or absent male in our society and the force of industry that overwhelms all that is female in our culture.
My background studies were in graphic design, illustration and printmaking and it was a desire to shed these labels that led me to where I am today, though I continually utilise these processes in my work. An urge to return to a form of making that used the hand led me to paper cutting. The
ease of decision-making that the computer allows has meant I have consistently used this tool. However, I insist on using my hands for the final pieces. The process of interpreting a language to merge the technical with the conceptual is one that fascinates me.
While I was studying I worked as an artists’ assistant. I have always loved working with specialists in different fields and when the chance to work with Marios Schwab arose I leapt at it. Dress 09 gave me a deeper insight into my own practice and the freedom to explore my ideas in different media.
" The colour is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide - plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard-of contradictions. "
" There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down."
" I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, un-blinking eyes are everywhere. There is one place where the two breadths didn’t match and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other. "
" Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flourishes - a kind of "debased Romanesque" with delirium tremens - go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity. "
" Sometimes there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over. "
" It is the strangest yellow, that wallpaper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw - not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things. "
" Then I peeled off all the paper I could reach standing on the floor. It sticks horribly and the pattern just enjoys it! All those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growths just shriek with derision! "