Bottom Drawer | Paula Chambers | 2 - 31 May 2009

A provocative exhibition that relates and responds to current perspectives on motherhood and its role in contemporary society. These unnerving sculptures and installations contain multiple layers of meaning; the outcome is subtle and surprising, disturbing and amusing.

"When I was 15 I heard through gossip at school of another 15 year old girl who had accidentally fallen pregnant; she had successfully hidden her pregnancy from her family and friends. On the day she went into labour; she took the day off school; delivered the baby herself and kept it hidden alive and well in the bottom draw of her childhood chest of drawers. She managed to keep the existence of the baby secret for several weeks. This story has continued to haunt me throughout my adult life." Paula Chambers

Chambers' current practice explores the issues of what it means to inhabit the female form. She creates installations and individual works that can translate into many layers of meanings. Ready-made objects are altered and adapted to stand as signifiers for the maternal body and the casting in unusual or inappropriate materials suggest an alternate reading of the original object.

The title of this exhibition, Bottom Draw, is intended to reference both teenage pregnancy and the tradition of dowries. The chest of drawers stands isolated in Room 2. This installation evokes ideas of Pandora's Box, the mythological tale of a woman whose curiosity was her final ruin. The bottom draw lies open, lined and slightly padded. The contained toys are released and escape throughout the gallery space.

In Room 1 individual sculptures representing subverted objects, are presented as artefacts in the space. Items including; baby clothes painfully knitted from stinging nettle yarn, commemorative porcelain sipper cups, and a pair of hand-knitted children's mittens cast in marble with a rusty chain as string.

These provocative and unnerving works promote in the viewer, a complex response encompassing the cultural, political, social, historical and mythological agendas that inform our current perspective on motherhood and its role in contemporary society.


Review by Carol Kirk on A-N Interface

Artist's Website

Further images copyright of Paula Chambers

South Square, Thornton, Bradford, BD13 3LD
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