Considering the kitsch qualities of the perfect home, qualities of women’s work and traditional images that are produced around idealized romantic relationships, this work conceptually discusses the discourse of romantic relationships. The body of work produced functions as an installation, focusing on the element of kitsch and heartache, and viewing painting within the expanded field.
This work originated as method of self care, creating a visual language of mark making that communicates and reclaims emotional trauma from romantic relationships in addressing ambiguous loss, a term coined by Pauline Boss. Ambiguous loss, defined as experiencing grief or mourning the loss for people who are still alive, operates within the installation to process trauma and to reclaim memory by documenting visually the on-going process of emotional healing.
Research is about understanding the discourse of relationships through the philosophical lens of Roland Barthes’ A Lovers Discourse: Fragments; Diane Ackerman’s The Natural History of Love, and through the feminist perspective, of bell hooks’ All About Love. The conceptual realm opens the dialogue beyond the personal experience beyond the “trauma porn” of a single personal event.
Paired with the emotional research conducted through the use of personal love letters from an ex-partner, signed between the years of 2013 – 2017, the study of contemporary female artists, Sophie Calle, Tracey Emin and Allison Wade, who use their practice to process emotional traumas and heartache. As well, a study of the impossible arrangements of flowers within the Dutch Still Life works of the 1600s, noted by Walter Liedtke and the Hunterian Art Gallery support the use of the chosen flower motifs in my work.
The abstracted installation with brash, hard-edged mark making on floral sculptures harshly contrast the detailed and soft water colour wall covering. The water colours are created through compositionally collaging floral imagery reflecting kitschy, nostalgic flower graphics and retro floral textiles. The work operates through metaphorical reading of materials and reading text which recalls memory. Installation methods stand alongside artists such as Karla Black in regards to the treatment of fine art materials corresponding with household materials which hold feminine connotations. The installation conceptually relates with artist Polly Apfelbaum, who questions the symbolic and metaphorical meaning of flowers through installations of large quantities of fabricated flowers, which may read as flower power sublime, the work holds a gravity of subversion and questioning.
When exploring the distaste or taboo of visually communicating romance within visual works of art, using the language of kitsch allows the work to be excessive and garish, overly sentimental and ironic. Playing with the constructed idealized romantic relationship rituals that are practised today commercially through the language of craft, I confront the cliché notion of creating a visual for romance and heartbreak to understand the lover’s discourse as a woman in academia.