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14:00 - 14:45
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Weights of Responsibility

Susie Johnston, Jenny Pope and Louise Ritchie

4 Mar - 1 May 2022


Weights of Responsibility.Susie Johnston
Weights of Responsibility.Jenny Pope
Weights of Responsibility.Louise Ritchie

Weights of Responsibility features the works of three artists – Susie Johnston, Jenny Pope and Louise Ritchie. Together, they present a celebratory installation of sculptural works exploring a playful subversion of objects, skin, and expectations of contemporary womanhood.



A note on 'Weights of Responsibility'

'(In)visible Burdens' + 'Tools for Our Ages' (ongoing series) | Jenny Pope

I have a fascination with the inescapable changes that happen internally and also externally in the natural environment. I use collecting discarded, weathered objects to suggest the uncertainty and changes we all face as human beings.  

I create collections of tools using old objects exploring psychological change, combining different components to layer the past functions and specific applications to capture the intangible way in which we make decisions, inform changes and how our minds deal with uncertainty. I am drawn to explore anxiety around climate crisis and how to bring hope into these issues and our perception of survival. 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. 

My response to ‘weights 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.


'Skin by Skin ' |  Louise Ritchie

The gossamer silk and soft velvets of Skin by Skin 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.


'Conditions of Possibility’ | Susie Johnston

Repurposed wedding shoes. Velcro Strips.

Crude oil, oil paint. 

Conditions of Possibility comprise numerous unpaired, unworn wedding shoes as if dancing on the gallery ceiling. A miss-match of two high-heeled shoes dipped in crude oil stand upon a glass frame-topped plinth. A hot pink paint colour frames the two shoes on the plinth as well as the insole of one. My decision to dip the shoes in sticky, stinking, viscous crude oil was anchored in the power of a material to embody meaning through metaphor. The oil becomes part of the shoe, stuck and fixed, together forever. A union, a marriage a commitment yet with catastrophic outcomes. The relentless dependence upon the fossil fuel industry is played out in this reference to the oil being an integral part of the design of the shoe.

I engage with materials, entering a realm beyond logic and comprehension, as an integral part of the process of the making of the work. Through this material engagement possibilities are discovered, revealed, 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 repurposed wedding shoes on the ceiling of the 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 multiple associations ranging from union and celebration to oppression and expectation, responsibility and freedom, to loss and grief.


A Gathering Finissage 
Join us to celebrate the closing of 'Weights of Responsibility' with the artists and with live music from local musicians!
We do ask that you RSVP so that we can keep an eye on numbers - but other than that, it's free to attend, just bring your lovely self/selves and we'll look forward to seeing you on the day. To RSVP, email kate@birnamarts.com or register here.

About the artist

Jenny Pope has a WASPS studio with a BA in Ceramics and an MA in Sculpture from Edinburgh College of Art. She exhibits in the UK and won professional development awards. She is a professional member of SSA and VAS and is elected to the Royal British Society of Sculptors, in London.  She has worked on Creative Scotland funded residencies with Art Walk Projects, exhibited with 2 other artists in ’Tools for Survival’ and had a solo show at Upright Gallery, Edinburgh. Recent research has been around kinetic movement funded by a VACMA bursary.  

She divides her time between practicing artist and mental health and wellbeing work and is currently a Life Coach and mentor.
www.jennypope.com | Instagram @jennypope_lifecoach

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 Past-President of the Society of Scottish Artists and a Lecturer in Contemporary Art Practice at City of Glasgow College/UWS. Louise is also currently a PhD Candidate at DJCAD/UoD.
Instagram- @louiseritchiegram

Susie Johnston works across the disciplines of painting, sculpture and installation.

'Conditions of Possibility' reflects Susie's continued interest in exploring metaphoric associations connected to matter itself. Inspired by speculative realism and object-orientated-ontology Susie critically re-evaluates the relationship between humans and more than human matter – a long overdue inquiry into a willingness to engage with our material support system which is in crisis and which we are so dependant upon.

Susie has lived in Perthshire for the past ten years and has exhibited widely in both the UK and Australia, where she lived, studied and worked between 1989-2000. She is currently a post-graduate researcher at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee where she also teaches part-time. Susie is supported materially by Binn Group in her PhD research.
www.susiejohnston.co.uk | Instagram @susie_johnston

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