Janet Blackman
Cardiff School of Art & Design Summer Show 2018
“It’s okay, to let go (unpegged)” Janet Blackman’s practice has personal resonance, centring on her conscious and unconscious understanding of the world as a mother, wife and dancer. The installation “It’s okay, to let go (unpegged)” in whole seems to represent the idea of letting go, demonstrated through the deconstruction of the traditional clothes peg. The exploration of the peg stems from a desire to explore mass-produced, mundane objects of everyday life. Blackman works through both deconstructing and reconstructing; and it is through this deconstruction of the clothes peg, alongside its underlying relation to the nurturing, maternal role that Blackman manages to let go of the responsibilities of motherhood. The decision to leave major elements of the sculpture undecorated, exposing the raw materiality of the wood, entices the mind back to the basics of a clothes peg. Within the installation, the peg is approached in a variety of formats, from the free-falling sections of wood, to the sturdy bronze cast pegs. The inclusion of a realistic representation of the peg, combined with the choice in material and its lengthy construction process, mirrors the physically demanding role of the mother. Additionally the number Blackman chose to make has significance to members within her family, highlighting the personal resonance within her practice.
Balance is an underlying theme throughout Blackman’s installation, demonstrated through balance of material; solid bronze castings against fluid, bent wood, as well as Blackman’s physical use of balancing materials on top of one another. This fascination with balance possibly stems from her past as a dancer, in combination with her role as a mother and wife. Thus suggesting a possible relation between the balancing of materiality alongside the ‘balancing act’ of life. Through height, materiality and composition, Blackman achieves a great deal of movement within her sculpture, which may also stem from her past as a dancer. A great deal of play between abstraction and reality can be found within the sculpture, that releases and halts the movement. The free flowing forms of the twisted and curved wood are loose and expressive, but are juxtaposed by the solid sand cast elements and bronze cast pegs, that ground the installation and act as a reminder of its focus. The height of the work and the way in which the wood drapes increases this sense of movement. The fluidity of the wood gives the sense of falling and tumbling, resembling a fabric, and therefore it could be inferred that they act to represent laundry falling, further adding to this idea of letting go. Evie Banks