Painting / Mixed Media on Textiles
How we perceive our bodies is at worst, through perceptions of body idealisms we see on social media, online shopping and online advertising. At best, we still view, perceive and understand our bodies in simulations of it or "second hand" viewing: through a mirror or a photograph. For this body of work, Ruth refers to Michel Foucault's concept of “heterotopias” or 'spaceless spaces' and applies it to how we understand our physical self.
The works, created for group show, Collective Disturbance', formed part of Margate Festival and supported by Turner Contemporary and Arts Council England, also curated by Ruth. The three works translate the viewpoints of Ruth, a man and a woman, looking down at their physical bodies. Ruth pertains that viewing the actual body in this manner means we see and experience in a primal manner, viewing the actual physical body first-hand. This work s the starting point for a completely new, first-hand perspective of body that art, photography, media and advertising rarely - if ever - have captured. Our habitual ritual is seeing the body in reflections of it - a mirror or a photograph.
'Collective Disturbance', 27th Sept - 10th Oct 2019, aimed to translate our progress and illuminate our failures across a wide range of current topics spanning the new masculinity, social divide and hierachies, political unrest, consumerism, race and heritage and human extinction.
HOW YOU SEE ME, HOW YOU DON'T
Coinciding with a TEDx talk Ruth gave in Nov '18 called How to Rebel Against Body Image Idealism, this latest series of works explores how we see the body, both as a whole; translated through the figurative and in relation to the concept of body image, and in sections or fragments, close up and without a mirror; translated through the abstract and magnified lines, shapes and contours of the body.
The portraits purposefully omit faces to fully engage the viewer in looking at the body. The application of paint, oil pastel and thread in differing speeds is integral to her process, allowing her to investigate the interplay and "stand off" between the figurative and the abstract, and the representation of the human form versus the expression of the human form. The artist seeks to evoke a sense of both uniting and fighting between the lines and contours in her work. Such is the relationship our minds have with our bodies, as both seek paths to recognition and connection.
NAKED PIECES OF YOU
The show also saw the launch of a diversity campaign, Naked Pieces of You, which challenged men and women to have their portrait drawn semi-naked or naked in the window of the gallery space in Mayfair. The project has now become an ongoing 'clinic' and artwork. Read more here
A MOST AWKWARD DIVIDE
‘A Most Awkward Divide’ featured a collection of works for an exhibition at Gallery46 in Whitechapel, London, (Sept 2017) exploring the idea that the mind-body divide is widening in a culture that is heavily influenced by long working hours, being online and technology. In line, shape and contours made with paint, oil pastel and embroidery thread upon canvases stretched with a mix of fabrics, abstract and figurative processes converge.
Expressive lines are intentionally exhaustive and obsessive, yet find a power in their repetition. Simultaneously, the artworks are the products of the mind actioning the artist’s hand - thus demonstrating instantly, the body at the service of the mind, yet inviting the idea that, as a brushstroke was the action of the mind and body acting together, no line, shape or contour could be labelled as “wrong”.
This collection of works was the first to translate, through the mind/body divide, the notion that our species is in need of a reconnection with our neglected physical selves & bodies. It also acted as the foundation for the concept of the body as a home.