Tuesday 10 February 2009

I'll be your plastic toy

I’ll be your plastic toy [1]

And I looked
At my big ball of string,
And I said,
NOW I will find
A thing of some kind
Some GOOD kind of thing
To Do with my string! [2]

When Marion Holland wrote my favourite children’s book, A Big Ball of String, she created a character (not surprisingly) obsessed with making the biggest ball of string he possibly could. He began to do everything a child could do with an incredibly long piece of string – fly balloons into the sun, construct a machine out of a bike, a trike and a toy jeep – until he was bedridden. Then he discovered he could do even more – he could rig up the entire contents of his room and continue playing without needing to leave his bed at all, all with one ginormous piece of string. But if only he had some pink wax and a few pearls…

In her self-assigned project Take a ball of thread… Melinda Young has set herself three fundamental rules: Make from the industrial spool of pink thread until completely used. Only materials already in her studio can be sourced. Every item mad emust be wearable. These simple rules are reminiscent of Miranda July’s Learning to Love You More [3] project, such simple beginnings for pieces that ultimately represent very intimate concepts and experiences.

The works themselves pose questions about our notions of wearability/function (through use of materials) to wearability/classification of beauty (through the creation of alluringly grotesque forms). The curious bubbling piles look like chewed candy, or a discarded sun-melted plastic Barbie accessory, somehow finding its way into a gallery (or onto a lapel). The pieces harbour uncomfortable yet familiar feelings – candy pinks at once seduce and sweetly sicken, reminding us of childhood toys. Simultaneously, the works have a visceral quality, mimicking the body’s interiors. Linking them with our exterior, we are prompted to contemplate cultural attitude and ideas about the abject and the female body.

Debbie Pryor

[1] Just Like Honey, Jim Reid (Jesus and Mary Chain), 1985
[2] Marion Holland, A Big Ball of String, Random House Inc., 1958
[3] http://www.learningtoloveyoumore.com/

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