cutting at lemons for freckles

A show curated by Chloë Louise Lawrence & myself at Skippings Gallery, Great Yarmouth, March 2021.

Artist’s include: Nancy Allen, Hannah Dinsdale, Sophie Birch, Lydia Brockless, Georgia Fraser, Sophie Giller, Jazz Grant, Chloë Louise Lawrence, Maisie Maris, Fran Mollett, Saucy Sez & Jessie Stevenson. Below are both my works included in the show and the text.

’Time forgot about me’, wool, monks cloth, wood, shown as part of ‘cutting lemons for freckles’ – I saw the large empty fireplace when looking at this space, and when we planned to curate a wall of paper works, I decided I wanted to give them a warmth to set the scene. The piece is a nod to so many unused fireplaces in homes and buildings, which have been left behind, but actually take up a lot of space. I thought about how textiles have a 2D / 3D problem of needing a structure or a support, and saw this void as a great frame. Like an open fire, wool is associated with comfort and cosiness and I wanted to this soft warmth to come through, to enjoy the works around it. 

‘Wool is really here’ wool from Michael and Claire, pictured next to Nancy Allen ‘Muffin Top Bins’. I kind of wanted to create some loops and bubble shapes in the space – I’ve been reading about the decline in the wool industry in the UK / USA and about all the machines that can’t get updated, and all the complicated processes of not only raising the animals for wool, but how many times it goes through another process of cleaning, carding, spinning, dying and twisting, and I guess when I was knitting with it I was just thinking about that creation of the loops in front of you, how it can grow quickly, and how it creates lines in space that really exist with a really certain fluffy, burry, materiality that’s really unique to wool, and an ancient timeline of usage that’s very fragile in its future.

Text for the show by Chloë Louise Lawrence and myself:

“The artists were more interested in the textures of everyday life”. 

We wanted to put on a show with these twelve female artists, we told them to send what work they could, there were no restrictions, but some requests. All the artists had differing practices in terms of materials, techniques, concepts, but when the work came together in the show, we saw a few unifying themes which were re-imaginings of reality, or giving things potential new life and way to exist, and work in another way. We saw this critical approach from all the artists: each explores how we see, encounter and use things in a social context, and disrupts routine expectations of form and knowledge. 

In Djuna Barnes’s short story ‘The Diary of a Dangerous Child’, the protagonist speaks of “cutting into lemons for my freckles”, a visceral image of an attempt to remove ‘blemishes’ and ‘imperfections’ from the skin. When we make art, are we trying to therapise or improve ourselves, or the materials that go into them? Are we trying to make things a better version of themselves? 

In this show, the works involve a lot of re-making, repetition and variation, improving, and creating different versions.

The cutting of lemon seemed appropriate for the amount of slicing, trimming, splitting, and cropping in these artists’ practices, whether physically, in the sense of cutting into objects, magazines, fabrics, soaps, or dyed paper, or compositionally in terms of imagery and layers of paint, a cutting or editing process that’s harder to see. 

And this chopping and slicing of the lemon for improvement is an apt analogy for the searching and questioning and improving of both the materials of the works, and the artists themselves. By placing themselves in an ongoing critical position vis-a-vis everyday life, these artists continually examine and remake how they see, experience and absorb the world.

1. Neil Annett, ‘Why do artists make prints?’, The Kiss: or Poison Boyfriend: or Jesus’ Blood (London: Kingsgate Project Space, 2017), 15.
2.  Djuna Barnes, ‘The Diary of a Dangerous Child’, The Lydia Steptoe Stories (London: Faber & Faber, 2019).

Poster by Chloë Louise Lawrence