Janet Blackman
Cardiff School of Art & Design Summer Show 2018
Captivating and intimate: An insight into the sculptural installation by Janet Blackman. Standing on the third floor walkway, looking across the space I was immediately drawn to the sculptural work being installed. At first what looked like a skilfully shaped wooden sculpture seemed to be merely that, a well crafted, abstract, aesthetic piece that responded to its surroundings and felt at home within the space, however after spending time with the work and inspecting it more closely I felt like Alice who had just fallen through the looking glass. What at first had appeared to be folded wood and minimalist sculpture expanded in front of me. From every angle the work seemed to twist and change, the movement of passing people and the slight breeze through the open window causing the work to gently turn and sway, I no longer felt like I was viewing a stationary sculpture but instead felt like I was observing a constantly moving and adapting installation. Speaking to Janet, the installation seemed to come alive. I found the fact it was inspired by household pegs fascinating and the use of homely imagery such as a washing pulley rope and a clothes horse excited me even more. Beginning to look at the work in a whole new light, I found myself being able to pick out more and more aspects that I recognised and I began to fall in love with the hints at her own personal life. Figurative pegs laying back to back and bronze casts representing her grandchildren caused me to start visualising the installation as more of a site responsive, self portrait of sorts, juxtaposing objects which hold things together and yet in their abstract arrangement have been pulled apart and let go. This contrast can be seen too within the materiality of the materials used: bronze, wood, rope and what seems to be concrete would appear to offer a very masculine and fixed energy yet the delicacy and movement within the piece offers a refreshingly free and feminine twist, I feel these juxtaposing aspects perfectly represent the role of a mother and add to the intimate tension of the work. Meg Woodward-Hay