at Debenhams, Taunton - Somerset Arts Week 2002
I like to work with
materials that are discarded and in this residency chose to use a
range of Debenhams advertising posters that I was able to spirit away
from the Priorswood end of the store. I tore up the flesh tones from
the posters into plastic tubs of separate colours, including the lips
and the blond hair. I started to collage the papers onto the form
quite happily, until I came to a piece of skin colour that was too
dark in tone and looked out of place. I went cold as I realised I
had selected white skins only to work with. I thought it through for
a while and realised that the only advertising images I had seen for
underwear and make-up were white skins.
Does the promotional
material of their products reflect their policies?
This raised a whole
series of questions and issues for me. I wanted to reflect this discomfort
in the piece I was making. Do we today need political debate about
the exploitation of women? We surely do need to reflect the multicultural
nature of our society in the images chosen to advertise beauty products.
I did gently question the store manager who was a bit uncomfortable
and evasive with the question.
During the residency I had the opportunity to discuss with the public
about the issues I was working with, and the incongruity of seeing
the work amongst the images of bland consumerism when I hoped I was
reflecting some sort of irony around the issues of the ideal image
of women. However I do have to admit that the majority of people wanted
to know how long each piece took and how they were made, where the
ideas came from and who bought them.