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  • Writer's pictureLiz O' Connell

'Working from Home'

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

Women have always been working from home.

I will just like to start with a quick statement: this work will be submitted towards my MA studies (the last module of a Glass and Ceramic Master's, meant to develop both practice and material expertise) and part of my ongoing practice.

Completing your Master's outside of the university studio environment raises some important questions about developing one's own practice beyond the University. For me, it was about the fullness of the artist's intention and what that individual is really interested in; linking it to those ideas which upon forming are then subsequently developed.

With no furnace or large glass kiln available, I have been pressed out of necessity to examine the consequent impact that this has had on the scale and expectations I previously held of my originally intended work. Yet, even so, some of these challenging issues have served to create a climate wherein new and interesting alternatives have been and are being considered. I am therefore using this blog to communicate my journey.

Within a literature review, I have contextualised my new alternative work. It relates to glass in the wider field of sculpture and to issues of domestic labour and gender. I am not aiming to make 'specific glass objects' for other glass artists to view. Its specificity, first and foremost, is to be part of a wider debate about sculpture and feminism. Not 'glass to illustrate beauty'. Rather, it is glass used to create objects that we might think of as being representative of ordinary, domestic, and women's work.

I am deliberately playing with expectations of 'high art' and 'low art'; with ideas of what through the medium of glass evokes repetition, mundane labour, and craft. Often, low-paid or unpaid labour is invisible and wrongly deemed unimportant, despite its social and economic impact. This is currently undergoing a re-evaluation during the current COVID-19 pandemic, its key workers now being rightly seen as essential to healthcare and public service.

Process and Development

The first part of my journey involved the utilisation of textile pieces that explore the wild thread, the natural , the untamed, and the undomesticated; looking at how the gender identity of young women is created and can be objectified through exploring the sense of self. Below can be seen the drawings of selfies (from my family) screen-printed onto water jet cut mobile phone screens. Also, to be found below, is previous MA work where I have printed drawings of selfies which have been placed onto water jet cut screens.

I have been hand-dyeing wool, thread, and linen so that I can start to make embroidery pieces using all-natural dyes. 'Wild' represents a concept of being 'naturally' wild and undomesticated, and carries with it the connotations of being free. Likewise, 'threads' evoke idioms such as 'holding together', 'losing the thread', 'a stitch in time', 'falling apart at the seams','being on tenterhooks', and 'threadbare'

The four images below are of embroidery thread which is natural (not synthetic) and, ipso facto, a 'wild' material.

Process and Development in Glass

The second part of my journey has been employing the use of glass fusing techniques to make objects that refer to everyday domestic life, and exploring the value and place of that everyday labour and transforming what we think of as 'domestic'.

The images below are a final tranche of experiments in mark-making and represent an exploration of using domestic materials as well as paint, Tipp-ex, and detergent. Through scrubbing and scouring on canvas, I am mark-making.

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