Emily Rose Furber
The terms “hollowed out”, “cored“ and “cut” are sometimes used to describe young girls and women that have had their genitalia brutally cut away through Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
My sculptural installation aims to expose this horrific act and to reflect these haunting terms. I manipulated wire and plaster to create “hollowed out” forms that suggest a contained emptiness; embodying the idea that the essence of something has been forever taken away, leaving behind a shell of the former.
My use of hard, sharp materials hint at the inhumane act of this cultural tradition; a tradition that has no medical benefits and instead causes lifelong health problems. Although illegal, FGM will still be carried out during the summer holidays, as many young girls living in the UK will be taken out of the country to have this procedure performed.
My primary intention is to raise awareness of this issue. Ultimately, I would like my work to help towards protecting these young girls and women in danger of being cut.
The starting point for my work was when i began researching into issues that affect women and young girls in the world today, often harmful and discriminative issues that are gender based. I wanted to create work that would raise awareness and ultimately work towards trying to protect these women and girls in danger. I know that being a British citizen living within the UK that I am in a very privileged position, one where there is more equality than in other countries and where we are allowed to voice our opinions, therefore I wanted to use this position to try and approach difficult topics that I felt needed to be further exposed and discussed. This year i have researched into issues of great importance that i believe need to change such as Female Infanticide, but this term i chose to focus on Female Genital Mutilation in the UK. (I think issues need to be tackled little by little, and then globally!)
I started off attempting to represent this issue in painting, but soon found the topic was more successful discussed through sculpture and installation. This also changed the artists that were inspiring me, for example Anthony Gormley for his use of space and emptiness, Richard Mosse for his moving installation ‘Enclave’, which i was blown away by, which addressed the idea of something being beautiful and then you realise it is not and how Mosse was able to engage the audience and immerse you in his videos, to make you feel like you were there. Louise Bourgois for her ideas about hanging your work and finally and importantly the work by Mona Hatoum, whose work was of great importance and inspiration to me for its blunt and political edge and her sharp and cold use of materials. Equally as important were my resources which I used for researching and learning about FGM, so I could be well informed to make a comment on this subject, the most useful were The Guardian, the NHS and Amnesty International.
From changing mediums I had to learn to think about working in a 3D manner, thinking about space as well as the sculpture i was making. I had to learn what to me made an installation successful and powerful and how i wanted the audience to feel and try and engage them, With my final installation i was thinking about the atmosphere of the room as much as the hanging pieces.
Through changing mediums I feel I have really improved as an artist, I have also learnt more skills, such as plaster, sculpting wire and building moulds and improving my singular pen line drawings. I feel i have really grown to appreciate the beauty in simplicity and the power that art can have when presenting a conceptual idea. I feel I have been able to raise awareness through my art, which was one of my main intentions. I have also learnt a great deal on the topics of FGM and female infanticide through reading many articles, books and watching videos, moved by this subject, I have felt compelled to address it.
It has been important to get the balance between my concept and producing a fine art piece of work, It needed to be visually appealing and interesting to draw the viewer in to then digest the concept, I needed to achieve both if it was to be successful and I feel fairly confident that I have met this target.
In my future work I plan to return to discuss political issues that are still affecting women and young girls such Child Brides and Female Infanticide. I believe i am now most likely to explore these topics through installation or sculpture and probably try and expose them through a symbolic means or method. However i may also delve back into painting and collage as I want to try and further develop as a multi disciplinary artist and I do enjoy working in all these mediums.
Overall I feel pleased with what I have achieved, I believe my work has reached its intention and is now ready for our exhibition!!
Final Outcomes- ready for the exhibition!!!!
I feel pleased with my final outcome, my sculptural installation allows interaction, through walking around and in between each form, allowing you to be engaged and immersed in the room.
I feel it was successful to create a room that is enclosed and controlling the light is effective as it brings a quiet and a coldness to the room, increasing that unsettling, blunt edge that i wanted, that suggests to the viewer an uneasiness but for reasons they are not sure of until they read my statement which explains about “hollowed out” and FGM.
I am pleased I spent a long time getting the arrangement of the forms right, I did not want the room to seem cluttered, but for the forms to dominate and have space to breathe, and be strong in their own right, by giving them the right space, I believe i have allowed this to happen. They can now be viewed as individual pieces and as a collection.
Also i originally tried presenting the forms at genitalia height and then at eye level, here I have a mixture of heights and I feel this also addresses the different heights of viewers and keeps the eye engaged as you look around the room.
I’m glad I made the brave jump from painting to sculpture and installation, I feel my concept is more successfully represented and exposed through this medium.
Overall i feel pleased with my work and it is now ready for our exhibition- which is exciting!!!
DIY- preparing the room for the exhibition!!
There was lots of work to do in this room and I have spent so many hours preparing it!!!!! But I think it has all been worth it in the end!
Firstly i had to drill where i wanted the holes to go in the ceiling, so i could start arranging the placement of my forms (we had to drill into cement) and i knew the placement was the most important thing to get right, so that’s why I focused on it first. The forms needed to be randomly spaced, so they could ‘breathe’ and also make it possible and inviting to walk into the room, it was important not to make it too cluttered. I drew a few extra holes so i could sort out the arrangement, i did make a map of the ceiling, but the best judgement was from eye.
Once i was happy with this, i took the forms down and carefully stored them in the corner. I wanted the window boarded up to control the lighting and create a feeling of an enclosed space, this made the work more dominant, and more confronting and uneasy, I wanted to hint at the slightly uncomfortable edge, and as soon as there was no natural light, it really began to transform the room.
I next sanded the walls and then taped up the gaps and cracks, so i could paint them, giving a smooth, professional finish to the walls. (it took a long time to do four walls- but finally it was completed!)
I also decided to paint the black pipes in the ceiling and white out the window above the door, to complete the room, it looked more ‘together’ after this, I then proceeded to rehang my forms and sort out the arrangement, i decided to take more forms down, to make sure there was enough space. I also played with the heights, originally i thought eye level would be the best, but whilst responding to the space of the room, i found a variety of heights was the most pleasing, from genitalia height to above my head, this made it a lot more interesting when looking around the room.
Leading into my room there was a sink that was very messy, so i cut a board to cover it and secured it in place with 2 by 1 and painted it white to give a tidy finish.
Back in the room i patched up any marks or holes in the ceiling and trimmed the excess wire and made sure all the forms were extra secure for safety.
Finally, I decided upon covering the strip lighting with half blue CT tubing (202), as this would create a white light, as opposed to the artifical warm yellow one. This light would come out white and colder, it was also more successful to light the work from above, it didn’t create shadows or trip hazards and the effect it created really finished the installation off well! Ready for assessment!
(final outcome of pen drawings)
Emily Rose Furber,
I feel pleased with the final outcome of these drawings, i think they are simple yet direct and effective. The symbolic work works well in its message about FGM. I like the idea that you may not realise what the drawings are about, much like the installation until you read my artist statement.
I also decided they were best presented in a line, using the space and this way the line also leads you more into the room.
These drawings are now ready for the exhibition!!
Editing the collection
The bottom left drawing was originally a lot darker than the rest, although i like the drawing by itself, it stands out in the collection and is not cohesive to work well together. Therefore I plan to paint over this drawing and start again, attempting to make a lighter line version.
presentation of drawings
I’ve tried out various methods of presenting these “cored” themed drawings, firstly framing paper- but this looked too enclosed and perfect, especially for the subject i am discussing, I also tried spray mounting the paper to a panel, this looked better, although because it was such a simple piece, even though it was white paint it looked a bit detached from the panel, finally i tried drawing onto the panel directly, this was the best approach, the drawing looked intended for the display. I originally drew onto a painted board, that had some texture, but i found this distracting from the fine line drawings, therefore the best approach to get an even covering was to roller the paint on.
I then had to work out the best way to support the board, (as shown in the photos) finally i decided that a panel would make the work look complete and also most secure with the upside down mirror plates.
pen line drawings, under the theme of “cored”
Here i have been trying out different ideas, i have drawn just the cut and cored fruits by themselves and then i went on to try applying this directly over the body of a girl or woman. However i feel like this is too much, Also i must be careful in my representation because FGM does not define the woman or rule her, yet it is an horrible act that has been performed upon her. Where the apple covers the body, i feel it would loose the woman’s identity- even if it is just a drawing. Also the apple core appears more successfully symbolic when it is presented by itself, more simple yet more efficient and the concept is better portrayed.
I will continue to produce drawings of just the cored and cut fruits.