Show & Tell: the Image in Research Exhibition

I’m delighted to be showing a couple of key pieces from the work I made for the Button Box once again, as part of the Show and Tell exhibition at the University of Brighton, which explores how academics use images in their research.

Whilst the book and my work with Unfold provided a context and the impetus to create the work, ultimately it was images that are used to advertise beauty products to women, that inspired my outcomes. It is also often the case that work I create as an artist is then further developed and underpinned by research through my role as an academic lecturer, and vice versa. This work is a case in point.


Images from post-war, mid-twentieth century advertising aimed at women and my application of them upon objects that act as metaphors to contextualise them, play a central role in my practice-based research. The application and subversion of these visual messages translates society’s expectations of women into tangible objects that point a mirror back at the industry responsible for these images, highlighting the ridiculous nature of their claims. Yellow dusters metaphorically visualise domesticity, whilst dressing-table cloths and lingerie from this era signify the beautification and objectification of the female body.

In a period when UK-based initiatives encouraged women back into the home after the war and in the US, sold the American dream, the image of the ‘ideal woman’ was born. Pretty, perfect and domestically minded, it’s an ideal that persists today.

The feminine legacy of embroidery connects historical ideas of women’s work and status with image-lead aspirations of an apparently perfect female life.

Dressing Table Cloth: An exact copy of a make-up advert upon a dressing-table cloth. These image-lead narratives set the tone for expected behaviour as well as appearance.

Nightie: Original text from a Veet hair-removing cream embroidered upon a vintage nightie, subverted through a collection of glamorous models who have flowers growing from their armpits.


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