With March barely a week away, we are getting excited about the upcoming exhibition programme in time for International Women’s Day. As we celebrate the work of these creative women, we hope their work will inspire you to consider some of the themes and explore alternative approaches to material.
On 4 March we’ll see the opening of our next exhibition – Weights of Responsibility – by three celebrated artists, Susie Johnston, Jenny Pope and Louise Ritchie. Their joint exhibition will present an installation of sculptural works exploring a playful subversion of objects, skin, and expectations of contemporary womanhood.
Each artist will bring a piece of their own path to Birnam Arts’ Gallery space. Separately and together, their work will offer opportunity and platform to consider the layers of expectation, weights of responsibility and the humour we use to navigate this terrain, particularly the lives of women.
When asked about the theme of the show Jenny Pope shared, "My response to ‘weight of responsibility’ has been a drawing together of the many visible, invisible, overseen and often accepted ways that as women we are expected to carry extra burdens. We usually take for granted these demands and the capable way we habitually respond. How could we measure the affect this has on us, and the shape of our lives as we have adapted to survive and thrive."
Susie Johnston shares her works ‘Conditions of Possibility’ which comprises numerous unpaired, unworn wedding shoes dancing on the gallery ceiling. A single wedding shoe dipped in crude oil with a painted pink insole rests on plinth beneath them.
And Louise Ritchie installs Skin by Skin, signifying the passage of time between childhood and womanhood, through multiple layers of laser-engraved and softly draped velvet.
Together, they present Weight of Responsibility as part of Birnam Arts’ celebration of women. The exhibition will be on display from 4 March, until 1 May. We look forward to welcoming you to the Birnam Arts Gallery!
CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY TOGETHER
Join us online for International Women’s Day for an evening In Conversation With Susie, Jenny, Louise and Birnam Arts’ Visual Arts Programmer Kate. Together they’ll discuss measuring the immeasurable and the merits of dancing on the ceiling, with opportunity for Q&A from the audience at the end.
TUE 8 MAR | 7pm online
Tickets are available online now, with Pay What You Can and a minimum of £3 per person. The event is subsidised by Birnam Arts and Creative Scotland.
MORE FROM THE ARTISTS
Jenny Pope is a visual artist inspired by the processes of change and impermanence. Her sculptural pieces are inspired by beachcombing, collecting, bone structures and geology. Her work grows from a fascination with the inescapable changes that happen in our internal lives, and also externally in the natural environment, using a broad range of materials including porcelain, limecrete and found materials and is currently exploring textile processes.
When asked of her work, Jenny replied, I am an Edinburgh-based artist and I make work related to our psychological processes around change using found and repurposed objects. I have been a feminist for the whole of my adult life, and this is a lovely opportunity to focus on an issue so fundamental to my identity.
One series of sculptures describes possible ‘tools’ to alleviate or be aware of the many changes that happen to us as we go through the menopause. It’s often little spoken of in public, but get a group of women together, of a certain age, and the laughter and shared understanding is worth celebrating.
Susie Johnston works primarily between the disciplines of painting, sculpture and installation. Currently undertaking her PhD research, the work is anchored in researching human-centrism reflecting upon an urgency to explore our relationship with matter and the power of making meaning through metaphor.
I am interested in the power of things. Through material engagement possibilities are discovered, recovered, uncovered, transformed and challenged. It is all too often conditions, histories, and social structures which exert the most (often brute) force upon possibilities. Reframing the repurposed wedding shoes on the ceiling of the art gallery embraces both the art of the possible and a celebration of International Women’s Day 2022. The work aims to reflect upon the power of the wedding shoe as a metaphor for associations ranging from union and connection to oppression and expectation, responsibility and freedom, loss and grief.
Louise Ritchie is an artist exploring the hybridity and materiality of objects with a practice that includes painting, metal-casting, printmaking and ceramics, as well as within her roles in arts education and collaborative projects. Louise is a Lecturer in Contemporary Art Practice at City of Glasgow College/UWS and is currently a PhD Candidate at DJCAD/UoD.
In my work, Skin by Skin, the gossamer silk and soft velvets signify the experiences and thin transitions between childhood, adulthood, motherhood and womanhood. These layers are states of mind, symbols of the skins that layer over layer, each one similar and yet not.
The material hues are rich, existing as both transparent and opaque. Silk blankets and sumptuous velvets are sliced through with lasers but form delicate patterns on and below the surface to connote indexical incisions of experience and recollections. The indelible inscriptions, and scars, of triumph and sorrow. The skins of the moment, of then, and the skins of loss, all leave their trace as material time-markers to settle, year upon year, in loose gatherings of experience and celebration, loss and renewal and of the responsibilities that bind.