I See Your Voice, There Was a Silence

First exhibited at The Alchemy Experiment, Glasgow in August 2022

When I was a kid I was told that our skin has a memory. I distinctively recall being so fascinated by this. Our skin being the largest organ is the most exposed one to the external environment and whilst many refer to ‘skin memory’ in the context of long-term consequences of sun damage, as a kid I would look at my scars on my knees and bruised hands I often had from playing outside and would think about the ways they appeared. Observing them served as a sort of rewind of a memory. I would trace them with my finger admiring their unique shape and texture and wonder how long they would need to fade and finally disappear. Many of them are still faintly recognisable on my skin today.

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This series of works invites you to think of paintings not just as two dimensional flat objects with added paint onto a surface but to see them as independent bodies with unique presence, memories, own worlds, skin and scars. Here, the frame becomes the skeleton, the fabric stretched on top is the body and its flesh. A number of different fabrics like satin and chiffon usually used as women’s dress undergarments, plastic and canvas with various thicknesses are strategically used for their delicateness, reflective and semi transparent qualities. Here, the medium is the message. The fragile nature of each thin fabric reinforces the vulnerable and feminine presence of the paintings seen in the foreground of the foggy silhouette of the frame behind whist suggesting a nostalgic state of impermanence of a ghostly figure. The idea of one having ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ skin and the type of character identity attached to these expressions play a heavy role in deciphering each work.

Exploring these ‘skins’ requires you to come closer to the surface the way you would explore a loved one’s skin - with curious attention and focus. Eye trace the dips and troughs on the surface, crawling stitches piercing the fragile fabric, wax stains, burn marks, shimmering of satin, light reflected onto folded plastic, layered oil paint, dyed chiffon.

The act of making is also an act of scarring. The wax stains are often instinctively placed by hand causing burns. They leave traces of touch with a ghostly presence. Touch leaves invisible, delicate and temporary marks whilst here it is permanently cemented through the use of wax. Its memory is visually recorded. Furthermore, the act of stretching of the dyed and sown fabric onto the frame often rips the fragile semi transparent fabric causing more scars and opening holes through the stitches from the caused tension. The crawling stitches deform the fabric mimicking the waving skin surrounding crust of the scars and burn marks expose inner layers of surfaces.

The oil paint is another way of ‘scarring’ the surface. The occasional suggestive figurative forms layer an abstract but complimentary narrative further expressing the individual presence and intimate story of each work whilst recording a memory of brush action.

The act of sowing is inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Similar to the story of how Frankenstein’s monster was created in a lab by stitching body parts together, each painting is created through sowing various fabrics with a patchwork of meanings and symbolical connotations with the hope to spark the right ‘chemical reaction’ and manufacture a ‘living thing’. The act of sowing itself also addresses questions of female labour as textiles and the making of garments is traditionally women’s work.

The desire of capturing a memory is further cemented in the plaster casts which ‘fossilise’ various objects with significant meanings.