The Uncanny Kitchen
Collaboration with Grace Murphy
'Remember our heritage is our power; we can know ourselves and our capacities by seeing that other women have been strong.'
- Judy Chicago
The Uncanny Kitchen, 2020, Reclaimed Domestic Objects and Multi-Media, Dimensions Vary.
Myself and Grace Murphy have become familiar with each other’s work from many months of working in close proximity to one another. After realising that our work has a lot of similarities as well as differences, we felt that a collaborative project would benefit both of our individual practices by expanding our practical and theoretical insight.
With both of us being previously influenced by issues surrounding domesticity, we decided to push our material investigation by collecting the most obscure domestic objects we could find from second hand shops. It just so happened that the objects we were most drawn to were vintage kitchen utensils, and thus began ‘The Uncanny Kitchen’. The gendered nature of the kitchen setting was a clear developmental opportunity for Graces' feminist standpoint, and working with strange outdated vintage objects is a field I was very much interested in exploring.
Myself and Grace primarily work sculpturally with textiles; Grace tending to combine various reclaimed materials with modern day ones. I however prefer to work specifically with reclaimed fabrics and patterns typical of the the 1970’s. By combining these when creating our ‘Kitchen Tiles’ series, we produced a cohesive body of work that showcases our individual aesthetic styles whilst contributing successfully to our overall concept.
When it came to process experimentation, I suggested the thematic incorporation of abjection and disgust due to my appreciation for visually displeasing colours and textures. I also thought it would link well to our mutual appreciation of obscurity and horror. Experimenting with resin, wax and reclaimed objects, we both gained a lot of confidence when working, finding a lot of freedom in knowing that the perfection of a sculptural object was unimportant. Neither of us particularly planned what our experimental sculptures would look like beforehand, we simply let the processes guide us.
Both of our previous work began to touch on different aspects of horror film which is something that we wanted to develop within our collaboration. Grace being more concerned with the portrayal of women, and myself with poltergeist phenomena. We decided to combine these angles by researching female supernatural power and telekinesis in horror film and our series of short films are a product of this. As a result, I have begun to think more about the implications of gender surrounding the domestic objects I decide to use within my work, and Grace has been able to expand on the performative aspect of her practice with the use video and working with appropriated domestic props.
Moving forward, I am going to maintain the experimental approach developed during our collaboration, as it has enabled me to work more freely and maintain a consistent workflow. Additionality I am continuing with the collection of vintage objects as I find that they are a strong starting point for generating further ideas. During our horror film research, we began looking in to the history witchcraft which is something I am also going to continue with as I very much enjoyed the narrative aspect of our performative films and the opportunity to protest the oppression of women throughout history.
This project has been an incredibly beneficial experience as we have learned essential skills such as compromise and negotiation as well as general decision making with ideas and practical investigations. We had to plan around times that worked for each of us to visit relevant exhibitions and make work that required the both of us to be present. Myself and Grace have managed to develop a strong and successful working relationship in which our communication has been completely open and all of our ideas could be shared. Because of this, we both got out of our collaboration everything that we set out to achieve, plus additional skills and inspiration that neither of us had foreseen.