When I first saw Karin’s delicate sculptures at her studio in London, I was taken simply with how delicate and lacy these items are, and when I realised they were not made of fabric, was curious as to how she had made them.
These sculptures are, after all, not made by some machine, but painstakingly made by hand. So they are certainly not the simple pieces that you might first think.
Perhaps I was just starting to engage with these pieces of delicate sculpture on a superficial level, and did not truly understand. So, if you are like me, you may be tempted to look once at these precious items, and move on, without striving to understand them.
I would urge you to reflect, and let the process of art understanding move you, and get to your heart. Don’t be in a hurry to scurry away. These are complex pieces of art.
What lies beneath?
As a man trying to understand women, my own experience is that beneath every simple title we bestow on the fairer sex, such as “wife” or “mother”, or “home-maker”, there is so much more going on. I don’t think I, as a man, tell my wife just what these words mean to me, often enough. I’m pretty sure that women can feel under-valued, and unappreciated often enough; putting in all the hard work and effort behind the scenes to accomplish these titles. But what man does not appreciate the effort and inner strength in his wife at the moment she becomes a mother to his child? Or a wife, walking down the aisle towards him? Or as a home maker, when entertaining special guests?
So perhaps we should take a longer look at these sculptures to reflect on what lies beneath. Are women simply objects of desire for men? Are we really only interested in the carnal nature of what these garments may at first glance represent. Underwear such as bra and lacy panties surely cover the erogenous zones that men desire, and lust after.
But, like the sculptures, women are both tough and fragile at the same time, asking for love and appreciation. Women toil tirelessly for their husbands and often, in the workplace, for their bosses - often also men. Women are vulnerable to damage and hurt.
These sculptures are both transparent, and delicate, and would be totally revealing if worn. But they are enclosed in boxes. These say “keep out, don’t touch”, and “I am not yours to possess fully”, but “you may look and admire me”.
The sculptures themselves have taken innumerable hours, and have gone through many developments to get to these finished works. And still Karin is not satisfied. Women put themselves through so much effort to keep in shape, look good, dress well. Some are never satisfied with their appearance, and often ask their spouses or those closest, “how do I look?” before going out to meet the world.
The sculptures are made of paint that has dried in intricately fashioned silicone moulds. Karin has gone through several iterations of paint mixes, to find a material that works, being neither too brittle, nor too friable or delicate to hold it’s form. The paint itself is not simple, but has been carefully blended with other ingredients (oils) to make it supple enough to emerge from its’ moulding place intact and beautifully formed. The moulds themselves have not been simple to make, and have also gone through several iterations.
Women likewise go through several iterations of themselves to find what is not too delicate to be presented to the world, to men, but just tough enough to cope with all the demands put upon them. Not so fragile to break, but vulnerable to emotional hurt or damage if handled carelessly. Be warned.
And so these precious enclosed sculptures can speak for so much that lies beneath, and is appreciated too simply and quickly. Our women are not just objects of desire, sexualised beings, for our comfort and our carnal lusts.
Women are at once, fragile, but tough, alluring and inviting dialogue, conversation, even touch. But not everywhere, at any time; some parts are too intimate to know straight away. So with the sculptures, one must first fall in love with a piece, and only then want to possess it. And one must begin to relate to what lies beneath every woman, beneath the silly simple titles we might bestow. One must start to re-value the hidden charm, the fragile, delicate nature, the intricate and complex make-up, that our women truly are.
To own one of these sculptures, one is investing in this idea, this treasure in a box, that speaks for what lies beneath the female form.
By James Pimm