• Christine Pike, MA


Recently, I answered a callout on Curatorspace to take part in an art project led by artist Amanda Lynch, in partnership with Clayhill Arts, Somerset:

"Inspired by Mail Art and by the restrictions many of us have experienced due to covid-19, new work is sought for an exhibition of miniature pieces of art which will be displayed in a set of old letter press drawers and showcased online through livestream and video."

Obviously, I was intrigued as this fits so well with my own current practice - and I am delighted to say that my proposal (see below) has been accepted! "The national lockdowns in the UK as a response to the coronavirus pandemic have a disproportionately deleterious effect on the lives of women and children. Through the construction and display of objects found in a doll’s house I want to examine some of the ways in which women’s lives have been particularly restricted during this time."

As I thought about the objects I might select, and which aspects of restriction they might represent, I found myself becoming angrier and angrier at the ways in which women's lives have been impacted by the UK government's response to the coronavirus, and how it has thrown into sharp relief the widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots...

Here are the objects I chose to create for this project:

Gilded Birdcage with Egg (Tray 1 no. 79)

To symbolise the unfulfilled potential of many women’s lives, trapped at home during the pandemic. (An egg, exposed to the elements, locked away from the nurturance of the mother bird will not hatch into a chick and fly to freedom. It will die.) Disconnected from our support networks, our hopes for the future, like the unprotected egg, are exposed to harsh economic realities and are vulnerable to failure.

“The Middle Classes Shall Inherit the Earth” (Tray 1 no. 61)

Sourdough bread became the ultimate symbol of comfortable middle class lockdown last year. Sourdough requires a lot of time and attention to make. It became a pastime for women who were financially well-off and with time on their hands. Many of them shared their efforts on Instagram and this was picked up by the media.

“Shall I Be Mother?” (Tray 3 no. 244)

A common phrase people ask when pouring tea. I was particularly moved last year, early in the first lockdown, to hear accounts from many women with infertility problems whose treatment had been halted during the pandemic. This piece also symbolises women who suffered miscarriages during this time, often endured on their own, without a partner or other close relative being allowed in hospital with them. The question indicates a tentative hope for the future. Their suffering is not forgotten.

“Follow The Science” (Tray 3 no. 281)

A homunculus* (tiny human) in a glass jar. For centuries Alchemists believed it was possible to create a homunculus from semen, with no female input - a glass vessel standing in for the human uterus. To symbolise the arrogance, folly, and blind alleys that government, 'celebrity scientists', and social and mainstream media have led us down during the past year, ignoring the voices of (mostly) women speaking of the harms being done to children as a consequence of measures to control the pandemic. *There is a tiny glass homunculus in a jar in the ‘Krauss’ cabinet house in Nürnberg, dating from the 17th century. The only one in existence.

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