I have now collected my pieces from the City of Oxford College after a long wait over the Christmas break. I am so excited and so pleased with the outcome. The rope texture is especially clear with the help of the iron oxide. They have a really strong sense of being precious, fragile relics.
The iron oxide on the outside successfully ages each item whilst referencing the iron locks and keys used to lock prisoners into cells. The white interior conveys an emptiness referencing the waste of a life and the emptiness that these women must have felt. I have used a tin glaze to reference the tin bowls and cutlery issued to each prisoner.
I have used a red thread for the women who murdered their own children. Signifying a cut umbilical connection but also as a reference to the phrase ‘handing by a thread’.
I wanted them to be reminiscent of the bones I saw on my tour of the Museum of London bone archives or the specimens in the Hunterian Museum. I feel that the outside does have a bone like feeling. The only thing I am not so pleased about it that they are quite attractive and I think I was hoping for a less ‘pretty’ outcome. Something more gnarled and slightly repellent but actually I don’t think that this takes away from the message or story. These items are now purposeless they cannot stand up and hold anything within them they are redundant, lost remnants of something gone before.
Surgeons were often able to take the bodies of those who were hung for surgical dissection as part of anatomy classes. Interesting samples were often taken and preserved in various ways, to be displayed like those in The Hunterian. This was another reference I wanted to touch upon.