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Sculpture (MA)

Jenna Fox

My work reflects my interactions with people and our shared life experiences and journeys. What started as a confessional practice based on how I dealt (am dealing) with a traumatic life event developed into connections with others and their experiences. This led to discussions and interactions about what burden and trauma means to them and a new narrative formed. Talking, and learning about people's lives and their need to talk has informed my work and makes it relatable. Common themes that underpin my practice are: identity, place and home; the inside, the outside, boundaries and the movement between the two. The playfulness and humour is a coping mechanism and a way of exploring complex, often troubling topics in an accessible way.

The Prick and Stitch Alliance residency at Stand Point Gallery, London, was a pivotal moment for my practice as the knitting together, the puncture and the piercing of the body made me realise the connection between our internal and outward bodily disruptions and gave me the opportunity to make work that explored this.

I have a BA hons.(1st class) in Fine Art from UCA and an MBA from Brunel University.

Work is currently on show at The War Horse Memorial, Royal Ascot and has been shown at The National Trust, The RSPB, Earley Station, Trowbridge Town Hall and The Crypt Gallery London, and is on permanent display at South Western Rail, The Sculpture Park Farnham and Frimley Park Hospital. 

Editor of Haus-a-rest art platform and zine. www.haus-a-rest.com and curator at @new_haus_gallery

I am interested in the traces that identify us from our life experiences, be it inwardly focused trauma or the body's geography of scars, body modification or accidents interests. People do not want to keep silent, and I have been overwhelmed by how many people want to talk, share and rejoice in their scars and mental and physical disruptions. This dynamic and fission between the internal and the external, mind body and soul is what is so exciting. My work relates to universal debates on identity, and place (home and the body – mentally and physically) as I explore the dynamic of the internal and external. Sculptures, installations, photography and performance are the external manifestations of these debates. I enjoy reaching out and gaining insight from others to inform my thinking and my work. Kitsch, tongue in cheek and playful my practice sticks its tongue out at life’s hardships as playfulness is a coping mechanism. While confessional, it seeks to expose issues that are often kept silent and seeks to show that our vulnerabilities are our strengths. My MA dissertation researched the home and feminism, which led me to research the spaces of our body and mind and disruptions.

This is explored within three bodies of work: "Disruption", "Living With" and "The Dichotomous Home".


I am not alone!! I put a call out on social media asking people to share their body's disruptions, be it by accident, design necessity or vanity and I was inundated. I interviewed 50+ people. So many stories and life journeys. Pictures, tales, text and drawings. The silence was broken and I read that silence halts the mending of our body, as discussed by Bessel Van Der Kolk in his book "The Body Keeps the Score".

A narrative emerged and connections were made. It was not about unburdening, although this played a part, but about triumph and survival. I realised the disruption of the skin, be it by accident, medical necessity, vanity, or to help others, formed a body map – the body as landscape. We are all disrupted from birth with the umbilical cord being cut. Making and talking, making and discussing became a methodology and the work evolved. A collection of bodies, all punctured, became a mirror of global trauma. Lives disrupted in a pandemic, migration and prejudice so prevalent. It speaks of disrupted times and the push and pull of people. The figures in the work are homogenous and heterogenous – alike and yet unique – just as we are. It became a celebration of difference, similarity and connection.

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Recipe for Disruption (boy with a bike) 2021

Serve with empathy or “a right telling off”

This is s Springtime recipe for the more culinary adept.

Ingredients

1 x large garden with uneven crazy paving at the end of a cul-de-sac

1 x garden swing and rose bushes

A smattering of garden obstacles

1 x small boy wearing long trousers

1 x chain smoking elderly neighbour

2 x blankets

1 x tub of Hydrophilic polymer and potassium ferrate (commonly known as wound powder)

1 x first aid kit

2 x cups of sweet tea

1 x injection of Lignocaine

1 x Telling off (various alternatives are available)

Utensils

1 x small bike

Roll of black thread

Curved needle

Selection of bandages

Timings

Preparation - Ten minutes to warm up child by vigorously cycling up and down the road

10 seconds for the accident

2 hours resting at the neighbours

3 hours sitting time at the hospital

10 days recovery

14 days after making stitch removal

Forever, the scars

Forever, a story to tell

Method

STEP 1 - Heat the child vigorously by cycling around the cul-de-sac until a rosy pink colour. Add a dash of adrenalin and fearlessness. Cycle fast through the gate and bounce over the step. Use corrective leg motions and brakes as required. Tip in fool hardy speed. Add a sprinkle of random garden objects.

STEP 2 - Hit the uneven paving at speed. Separate the child from the bike. Add pain and ripped jeans. Add copious amounts of blood. Dust with tears and fear.

STEP 3 – Raise the child to mix with the chain smoking, old next-door neighbour. Place on a chair and inspect the bake. Add copious amounts of wound powder. Add two cups of sweet tea and a blanket. Wait for two hours until set then transfer to hospital.

STEP 4 – At the hospital inspect and inject with pain relief. Remove unattached skin, Sew the parts together. Bandage and serve.

Serve with

Tenderness and be careful with the bake for the next 10 days as the bake may be fragile.

Notes

This recipe cannot be pre baked and has to be made on the day.

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Recipe for Disruption (Tattoo) 2021

Serve with a dollop of attitude.

This is a yearlong recipe for the more adventurous cook.

Ingredients

1 x Pre shaved head at the base using a beard trimmer

1 x Disposable razor

4 x pre-dispersed inks 4 oz bottles

Designs on flash sheets

Box of chemical wipes

Vaseline

Vitamin E

Utensils

Cover bag for your machine, and cover sleeve for your headrest

Tattoo after care antiseptic

Surface disinfectant sterilisation

Tattoo topical antiseptic ointment/cleanser

An autoclave bag

Alcohol prep pads and rubbing alcohol

Medical waste container

Tattoo autoclave (stericlave)

Latex gloves

Cleaning brushes for tubes and tips

Tattoo machine rack

An ultrasonic cleaner and cleaning solution

Germicidal solution to keep equipment sterile

Needle trays

Bandages, wraps, and hospital tape

Sharp pair of stainless steel medical scissors

1 x Tattoo gun and power supply

Foot switch, spring clip cord, and feeler gauge.

3 x disposable needles round liners and magnum or flat shaders

1 x gum shield

A steady hand

Timings

Preparation – 5 minutes

Shaving 5 minutes

Positioning the stencil – 15 minutes

Inking – 2 hours 20 minutes

Apply vitamin E cream every day for 14 days

Scabbing – after two days

Fully healed – around six days

Forever – the tattoo and a story to tell

Method

STEP 1

Agree the design.

Apply gloves.

Tie hair back and shave the back of the head using the disposable razor

Use the antiseptic wipes clean the back of the head

Add a thin layer of petroleum jelly.

Apply the design transfer. A few attempts may be required.

STEP 2

Insert a gum shield – to bit into when pain is intense.

Using the tattoo gun with sterile needles attached tattoo the outline of the design. Change needles as required. Any blood or fluid is wiped away with a sterile, disposable gauze or cloth. Repeat and until completed.

STEP 3

When finished, clean the area once again and keep hair tied up for six days.

STEP 4

Daily - Wash the tattoo with soap and warm water

Apply antibiotic ointment, thick skin cream, or vitamin E oil 2 to 3 times a day for a week.

Serve with

Swagger and a stiff drink to follow.

Notes

This recipe cannot be pre baked and has to be made on the day.




Medium:

Mdf, wood, screws, conversation and sharing, words, Dulux paint and acrylic pen.

Size:

Sized to fit the space
Living with - the sculpture (2020) — Recycled wood and beer cans. It stands 150cm and weighs around 28kg. The dimensions are important. It's heavy, awkward, cumbersome and the aluminium cans cut. Keep this in mind as I drag, wrestle and live with it for three days and nights.
Living with - the film (2020) — Carrying the sculpture up Windsor High Street. I start off full of verve and end, exhausted and sitting on the piece. Art imitating life, life imitating art.

My motivation was living with the burden of trauma and how I could show this in a physical form. Using recycled wood and beer cans I created a sculpture of a question mark weighing 28kg. I dragged it to a Royal Park without permission (I gained a verbal warning) and filmed myself carrying the work. Experimenting with context, as Barad’s (2003) writing on performativity and context resonated, became an important aspect of the work. I lived with it for three days and nights. In bed, the shower, at work in happy and in sad times. I reflected about carrying the sculpture, and it brought to mind the performance by artist Emma Sulkowicz (Mattress Performance, Carry That Weight 2014–2015) using the mattress where she was allegedly raped; this relates to my themes of burden. This led to another film, where I carried the sculpture up Windsor High Street, UK. Seeing other artists experiment with context, such as Valie Export, informed my struggle to carry such a weight. I was mostly ignored as I puffed my way up to the top of the steep road. My arms bruised. I was left exhausted. The photographs were taken over three days and nights and it was exhausting to drag this heavy sculpture around. I was bruised, tired and cut. It was an epiphany, as the metaphor hit home, and a turning point for my recovery.

Medium:

Photographs, performance, films and sculpture

Size:

Multiple
The Naughty Chair (2020) — 1950's child's chair, stilts and bandages.
Rough it up (2020) — Iron, studs and cast metal arrow head.
Relax (2020) — 1920's wooden chair, feathers, bird defenders.
Backbone (2020) — Metal, wood from broken furniture from a woman's refuge and souring pads.
Changing Landscapes (2020) — Cotton, Lino ink, Donated shirts and bed linen.
Run (2020) — 1970's jug and cast resin chicken feet.
Sit on my Face (2020) — 1970's chair, porn magazine images of women, acrylic paint and nail varnish.

I delved into a confessional body of work that uses materials from others to demonstrate the home is not always what it seems. A safe haven or a foil and a disguise - the good, the bad and the in-between of the home. The materials used are intrinsic to the work. The naughty chair uses a child's chair that is bandaged to home made stilts. I think of being made to sit on a chair as a punishment for being naughty, which was often. The broken furniture from a woman's refuge used to make a spine, Backbone, and the donated fabric from my local community to make a piece that represents how my home changed when I was in lockdown: becoming my studio, workshop and exhibition space for Changing Landscape.

Medium:

Multi media

Size:

Various