• Who's scared of the soft stuff?

Robins, Freddie, 2018, Conference or Workshop, Who's scared of the soft stuff? at Feminisms and Materialisms, Royal College of Art, 25th May 2018.

Abstract or Description:

The work that I produce is mostly soft and floppy, as textiles tends to be. This serves some practical purposes. Even a very large piece can be rolled up and stored. However installing work for exhibition is another matter. I have spent a lot of time constructing invisible internal structures and suspending works from ceilings. Becoming frustrated with this process I have filled the soft forms to make them rigid and self-supporting, like traditional sculpture. This is not a perfect solution, it is denying the fabric it’s inherent fluid, shape-shifting qualities. I have also become frustrated with the number of exhibitions that market themselves as exhibitions of textiles when the work is stretched flat and hung on the wall, like traditional painting. Whilst battling these contradictory positions it dawned on me that this question over the control of soft material also related to the way that the material of a woman’s body is supposed to be controlled. We are constantly trying to keep the fat under control, or at least in place, through diet, exercise, the wearing of ‘Spanx’ and for the extreme, a ‘tummy tuck’. A large number of swimming costumes also contain ‘tummy control panels’. I heard a comment on the radio from an elderly woman who had asked a swimming costume retailer why they couldn’t stock swimming costumes without these panels as they were uncomfortable and irritated her skin. The reply was that ‘normal women’ wanted these panels. She said “but I’m in my seven- ties and I don’t care if my stomach isn’t flat”. Why would you have a flat stomach at seventy, gravity, if not childbearing, would definitely make that an impossibility, and more importantly why should you care if you are fit enough to swim? Why are we so scared of the soft stuff?

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts > W710 Fabric and Leather Crafts
School or Centre: School of Design
School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: Royal College of Art
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2020 10:52
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2020 10:52
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4528
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