Michelle Souter

In the beginning my work focused on the therapeutic act of making, and the work still does contain elements of this. I am interested in the role of obsession, ritual and accumulation. Sewn sculptures become the metaphor or votive for the performance of trauma. Childhood trauma, memories/recollections good and bad are explored through these made up matriarchal characters. These effigies formed upon reading about Jung's archetype of the collective unconscious and most specifically the Archetype of the Mother. I am very interested in the idea of creating and Altar like shrine to the shadow of someone we perceive to play the role of Mother-maker, Mother-crafter in our years of growth and beyond. It was my attempt to create a place of worship for this creature, our creator, similar to the place of worship for Mexican gods or deities. The fabric of these altars's developed from automatic drawings, which eventually allowed me to develop my own style. These drawings could be likened to that of child and outsider art. They reflect my interest in art therapy, and the need for repetition. In the case of the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, the fanatical accretion of sewn paraphernalia acts as a displacement of the body, and an attempt at overcoming trauma. I can relate to the underlying concept of why Kusama makes her work. Whilst she ritually repeats the making of the phallic object - she creates her very own world. My drawings and prints are the basis of the sewn sculptures, the two go together but they could also distinguish themselves from one another. The 3D aspect of my work allows me to play with the 'creation' of another world, but the drawings and prints are the initial recording of impulse repetition. This also relates to my interest in outside and folk art, again the artist creates his or her own world through the use of the medium. Very much like the reality Henry Darger created with the Vivian Sisters. The work may have underlying motives but the intent can also be ambiguous. These characters started from genealogical drawings of female genitals, and then came the male. I wanted to represent the female but not bind the role of the female down, Animalistic elements confuse the role further, seeking subvert my own perceptions of the female/mother and maybe that of the viewer. The many layers and reference to human anatomy can be interpreted in a number of ways. This allows time for the viewer to engage with the piece and perhaps explore the work a bit more before attaching their own personal meaning to the work. The 3D work is mainly made from recycled household material, bed sheets, and clothes - items from charity shops that already have their own meaning attached. I see it as an attempt at locating something already layered, attaching my own layer and then revealing it to the viewer. Interplay between revealing and concealing in order to find a story. Ultimately this is the same with the prints except they begin at a different stage of attachment. read full statement

Location Dundee, Scotland