“Do I wish that we lived in a world where gender didn’t figure so prominently? Of course. Do I even think about myself as a woman when I go to make art? Of course not.”Judy Chicago
On the 21/12/19, as an antidote to the Christmas frenzy I went to see the Judy Chicago exhibition at the Baltic. The Gallery, on the Gateshead side, of the bank of the Tyne was blessedly empty of the shopping throng that seethed on the opposite side of the river.
The Chicago exhibition was elegantly put together. All the works could be photographed by the public except the sprayed acrylic works “Heaven is for white men only” and “Let it all hang out.” (both 1973)
Along with the large tapestry and the Cartoon for the Fall 1987. I was very taken by her yearlong project to diary (in words and images) her feelings, “Autobiography of a year 1993 -94.” One piece offered a codex to the colours she used.
The work resonated with me as the quick sketches showed an immediate feeling/concern. I saw parallels between this and the autobiographical work of Tracey Emin and to some extent Derek Jarman’s “Slogan” work.
My Tutor, J O’Rourke, had mentioned Judy Chicago’s famous work “The Dinner Party” to me as I am working on an installation including a table. Chicago’s work aims to pay tribute to women (both real and mythical) Although the work is located on permanent display in The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn the Baltic is showing a film which describes the mass of work behind the five-year project.
Narrated by Chicago, the film, explains the imagery and symbolism represented in each woman’s place setting. Each place setting has a runner, a goblet, flat wear and cutlery. The goblet and cutlery are the same for each setting, while the runner uses embroidery techniques and imagery particular to each woman and the period she lived in. The centre triangular space is decorated in 999 names of other women she wished to honour.
I enjoyed listening to the artist herself describe the work while also giving praise to all the other artists and crafts people who had collaborated and given their expertise to enable this project to be completed. Chicago also spoke about the technical problems that had to be overcome in creating the density of some of pottery for some of the flatware.
I am currently working on an installation piece for my Art in Context module which incorporates a dinner table, chairs and three canvasses. However, my piece is the opposite to a celebration, mine aims to show the breakdown of communication in a family setting. I will be blogging more about this later.
All images taken by S Tweddle, except where noted.