Consumed: stilled lives - Ruskin Gallery

Woolley, Dawn ORCID logoORCID: (2017) Consumed: stilled lives - Ruskin Gallery. [Show/Exhibition]


Consumed: Stilled Lives plays with the traditional concept of still-life painting, which grew in popularity in the 16th and 17th centuries. Often featuring silver plates, ornate glassware and expensive foodstuffs such as shellfish and exotic fruit, still life paintings became a fashionable way for the Dutch and Flemish to illustrate their wealth. When interpreted using emblematic symbolism the paintings represent a conflicting relation with material wealth. In response to this reading Woolley produces still-life artworks that suggest contradictory relationships to contemporary consumer culture. Drawing on both definitions of the term ‘consume’ (to ingest and to purchase) she uses food still life photography to represent different characters and positions in relation to capitalist society. What we eat and how we eat are symbols of our wider consumer habits. We are what we consume. In her art work photography is both subject and medium: she produces photographs in response to adverts. Some of the artworks in the exhibition are produced using commercial methods. For example, ‘Hysterical Selfies’, is a series of pop-up promotional banners. Site specific works are also produced for commercial advertising spaces on billboards and social networking sites. Consumed: Stilled Lives comprises 6 series of mounted and framed still-life photographs and a sound piece. The exhibition at the Ruskin Gallery included a new series of work Relics made for the exhibition. The exhibition was accompanied by a symposium, Animate Objects: Encounters Between People and Things, that brought together academics from diverse disciplines to discuss commodity culture and our varied relations to objects. The symposium was organised and co-conveyed by Dr Ellen Sampson and Dr Dawn Woolley. (13th October 2017).

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