Collage has always been integral to my practice because of its potential to subvert or recreate contexts and meanings. Once I started to move in this direction, the sculptural work became a really fruitful way to create hybrids as I could collage with materials that have existing symbolism and could invert or embrace those expectations.
When I first started making these textile creatures, I noticed a relationship between them and stuffed animals. This got me thinking about the idea of transitional objects; items that infants attribute value to and psychological comfort. In this way, the PVC, for example, was a way of referencing sexuality without overtly sexualizing the creatures themselves. I think that this is relevant to the queer experience of projecting back onto our memories and childhoods through our own contemporary lenses, experiences, and language.
We can recognize these ‘queer’ moments of desire, of otherness, of shame or of unadulterated joy. Whilst sex and sexuality are there, they are something else, and there’s a futility in trying to pinpoint exactness in this sense. Sometimes, we struggle to let ourselves imagine or discuss sexuality in a time without sex, but I think that this opens up the opportunity to discuss the ways in which it can be just that, but also so much more.
For this piece in particular, I collected worn jeans, sportswear, motorcycle gear, off-cuts of leather and even leather cut off from couches on the street. The use of recycled or worn textiles that have already lived another life adds to this idea of imposing individual or personal meaning onto objects or materials. There are histories behind why we wear certain things or don’t wear certain things. Clothing can signify individuality or conformity, or community and belonging. It can be a secret language that only some can decipher, or it can be simple, direct and utilitarian. To not care or think about what you wear is a privilege that not many people have, and in that sense, clothing and textiles are heavily charged: politically, emotionally and symbolically. I’m grappling with this aspect in my choice of materials.