I got to spend a fun-filled day gallery hopping in Edinburgh earlier this week, you know, to broaden my appreciation of art and such like.
I must confess that I’m a cynical soul at heart and still frequently revert to my usual train of thought when traipsing around exhibitions: “just because you can make it, doesn’t necessarily mean that you should” …
However, after a day filled with cacti, singing stairs and mutilated, re-imagined toys, one piece stayed with me.
It’s the first time I’ve encountered anything by Emma Woffenden before, and her sculpture “I never really knew her”, as part of the Jerwood Contemporary Makers exhibition at the Dovecot, really struck a chord with me.
Made from painted glass bottles, the sculpture poses a female model, legs spread suggestively, with a male figure kneeling above her. The form is overtly sexual, the use of recycled materials implies repetition and the black paint, anonymity. It’s very simple, but striking.
And it got me thinking. Which is always a tad dangerous. It could be interpreted as a comment on the anonymous nature of drunken sexual behaviour, the ability of alcohol to allow us to justify our base instincts (whether or not with regret is ambiguous), or of the endless repetition of acts that both ultimately alienate and isolate us.
Or it’s just a slightly disturbing piece of sculpture. Which I’ve been thinking about too much. Because I’m not drinking… Context is key. And without the alcohol…