A Phantom Limb
For this South West Showcase exhibition, Eleanor Duffin presented a new installation based work which incorporated sculptural objects and sound based work.
These elements are extensions of an ongoing project, titled Phantoms of Form, which takes as its central point the idea of the “other” woman. The protagonist is a female figure, who is occupied with material investigation and is a composite of a number of historical female artists and designers. She is a ghost, a shadow, She is there but not present. The life and designs of these figures are used in collaboration with Eleanor’s own work, and the project oscillates between auto and fan fiction.
This chapter of the project, titled A Phantom Limb, focused on a series of letters written by Eleanor to the artist Barbara Hepworth, following a visit to Hepworth’s studio in October 2018. Preoccupied with the garden planted by Hepworth at the studio, the research for this show began by focusing on Hepworth’s use of the garden as an exterior work space. In tandem to this interest, Eleanor documented the demise of her own house plants slowly beginning to die. A second element in the research is a bronze cast made by Hepworth of her left hand. Eleanor’s curiosity here is in Hepworth creating such a figurative object, speculating if it is an act of somehow othering the self.
The research also encompasses an intrigue with the gaps or holes within Hepworth’s sculptures. Described by Hepworth as “concavities”, Eleanor’s interest here is with the action of subtraction of material in order to leave a gap, perhaps as a space for leaving room for things that can not be spoken or a space for the viewer to insert themselves in the narrative.
Recurring concerns within Eleanor’s practice is the role of verbal and text based language in the process of making, the relationship developed by the female with materials and the nature of co-working, within a visual art context.
The exhibition was part of the South West Showcase, a recurring open call platform (est 2013), showcasing artists from across the South West region. The showcase aims to support contemporary artists working and living in the South West through a year long programme of mentoring and support with an exhibition outcome; presenting a long-term commitment to profiling and supporting the practices of artists in this region.