Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog has probably guessed that a lot of my posts are spontaneous and that the subject can be prompted sometimes by anything and everything. Sometimes it can be the date of an artist’s birthday, or the subject of a poem or something I’ve seen or heard in the media and want to investigate. Sometimes (like todays post) it is influenced by a comment someone has made. The comment was made on artistatexit0’s great blog. The post was about found objects – a lot of them being toys. This brought back a childhood memory of the artist’s lost toy and I began to rifle through my mind for an artist whose work I either saw or studied a while ago, who used stuffed toys in her work which she x rayed.
Further investigation revealed that the artist was Morwenna Catt. She is an artist whose work confronts the emotional scars of childhood through a storytelling narrative via stuffed toys. The toys are found objects which the artist has opened up – secreted with a ‘message’. sewn back up and then x rayed. The results are startling and sometimes a bit disturbing. Catt invokes a lot of childhood memories anxieties and trauma in these pieces using the dog eared beloved soft toy to convey this.
Messages lie within these mute childhood toys – like the horse which hides a key and padlock in its belly:- the message ‘betrayal’ is revealed in this x-ray photo on light box. As well as the textile work, (the artist hand stitches these animals) Catt also works in 3D installation, paintings, drawings and with light boxes.
The ‘wounded textile heads in her ‘Phrenology‘ pieces are based around drawings. They show vulnerability and dysfunction, yet have a disturbing pathos. this is what the artist has to say about her work:-
“Childhood is a recurring theme in my work, I try to dispel Fairy Tale mythologies, stripping back to the bare bones of experience and uncovering some kind of underlying truth using personal narratives alongside subverted imagery. I use the familiar and the nostalgic as a trigger, but disrupt the reading. In recent works the family unit is transformed into animals, either drawn, painted or constructed as 3D textiles; malformed, battered and bruised to evoke the darker side of family life. I am preoccupied with our relationships to trigger objects, memory, nostalgia and psychosis.
collective memory. The type from my old battered type-writer reminds me of discovering my mothers secret poems. The pattern of simple animal shapes on the Phrenology III head is taken from a 1970s toy pattern book and has that bitter sweet nostalgic quality. Modern life requires that everything is clean and shiny and safe, kitemarked and numbered, my work is the antithesis of this – its slightly grubby, pitiful in its hand-made grotesqueness, the threads hang loose and needles project dangerously from stitched mouths.” peoplesMy work is very ‘hand-made’ – it can look laborious and clumsy, scrawled with hand written text and the faded words from an old ribbon typewriter. I want the work to have a wounded ‘authenticity’ and try to use evocative image and text/process to tap into
There is much, much more to this artist and her work. She has undertaken many interesting projects and is always coming up with new and creative ideas. I’m so glad to have finally found her again!
Morwenna Catt website and gallery here I Artist statement excerpt from here. Images from here and here
Interesting interview here
PS. THE VAN GOGH POETRY CHALLENGE IS STILL GOING STRONG! TO SEE THE POEMS AND TO PERHAPS ENTER YOUR OWN PLEASE CLICK VINCENT!
8 thoughts on “Art Discovered and Recovered – Morwenna Catt”
Very fascinating artist…her use of X-rays to show the hidden interiority of her subjects is such a great device. I liked many of her comments about her art as well.
Yes, there’s quite a lot to this artist and the way she investigates her subject matter. I like the way she is able to go from one medium to another too. This is one I shall be keeping an eye on 🙂
This is such interesting work, and completely new to me. Thanks Lynda. Once again your blog has informed and inspired me.
Glad you liked this artist Kirsty – and thanks:)
I have come back several times to read this post, Lynda, and decided that I find this art difficult for me to view. Perhaps that is her intent to inform to dig in to portray injustices. What I like about being exposed to art like this is the knowledge that there is a line I draw somewhere. I actually liked the self portrait of Manson and have always liked Schiele which I think is rather haunting. I don’t think it is just that this is directed at children. I have always been affected by art that depicts sad aspects of life where an innocent is reflected as vulnerable. In that, it is art that has served a purpose. I will not likely forget these images.
I take your point about the art being affecting (even if you find the subject difficult to deal with). We can’t like everything in art and like you say we have to draw a line somewhere and you have drawn yours. I do find the work interesting – though some of the aspects are a bit dark, I agree.
What an incredible way to use ART to heal. Innovative and expressive and so revealing. Great find, Lynda!
interesting eh – its amazing how art can lend itself to so many things giving voice politically and cathartically among other things! I love discovering these unusual artists (must find more :))