“Similar to the instruments used by butchers”, 2018
33cm x 24cm x 2.5cm
The piece “Similar to the instruments used by butchers” (2018), is directly inspired by the 1914 attack on Velasquez’s work, “The Toilet of Venus”, popularly known as the Rokeby Venus, and the language used in the reporting surrounding the event.
The actions and motivations of Suffragette Mary Richardson were sensationalised in the press, with the damage to the artwork being described using emotive, visceral terms that sought to humanise the artwork whilst belittling and denigrating Richardson, to better fit the sensibilities of the newspaper of record. A woman without agency or a voice, attired so as to be recognisable as feminine, and behaving in a submissive, performative role was seen as the acceptable face of womanhood.
In this reductionist approach, I see a parallel in the contemporary, ongoing pressures and penalties of living as a woman. Whilst there has been progress since suffrage, we are clearly still living in an age of, as Richardson noted in her statement to The Times, “artistic as well as moral and political humbug and hypocrisy”.