IVIMEY, Linde, 1965
wood, steel, ostrich egg, fibre, feathers, wax, bone
79.0 cm x 28.0 cm x 22.0 cm
Q: What is your interest in Christian saints? Are there other sources for these works?
A: I was raised in a Catholic family and was introduced to St Anthony when things were lost, to St Christopher when we travelled and St Francis when the animals were sick or dying - very pedestrian, mainstream saints. The European travel and my research into the saints introduced me to many much more interesting and obscure saints like Dysmas and Climacas. The body of work that these pieces have been selected from is based loosely on my interpretations of some of the 'stories' of the saints or their principal patronages. It was when I started to cross-reference them with Greek and Roman mythology as well as pagan and feminist material that the stories and the characters became a whole lot more substantial. The high classical art that I found so overwhelming in the beginning really did have an angle that appealed to me. Generally I identify more strongly with sacred objects than with classical high art. Some 'other' thing is evident in those pieces.
I feel a little embarrassed about the religious connotations of making saints (I just like the stories); what I am really making are figures. The stories of the saints aren't all nice, chaste and virtuous the way one would first imagine. Some of them are just vile, they describe numerous forms of torture and violence, rape and treachery. To satisfy the way I work and the way I feel about the story, I need to use materials that bring some of the 'other' that I mentioned earlier.
Q: Tell me about the materials you have used.
A: The materials I use are familiar, sometimes intimate, often well disguised or hidden internally in the sculptures. I make smaller figures while travelling so I really only use what is available, but when or if I make the works again in my studio they are usually larger, and I use the regular range of tools and I have lots of collected materials on hand.
I carve feet for the figures out of cork while I'm away, but I use good carving woods here in the studio, camphor laurel or Himalayan cedar, maybe cypress - whatever wood I come across. I'll make an armature from sticks, twigs or a bent coathanger while I'm away, but will weld a strong steel armature to scale a piece up. I love the coloured lead collars that are around wine bottle necks and collect and use them; I have saved laundry lint for years, ever since I owned my first washing machine and it features somewhere in most of the works; I collect large and small bird eggs, bones and feathers when I find them, and animal bones or fur too; I order in restaurants and cook food according to what bones will remain from the meal, I use the bones from food that gets carefully prepared and lovingly served at my table, I collect the bones that get chewed and picked at and covered in saliva and fat and various juices; I never let my hair go down the drain, it surprises me to have collected so many hair balls of varying colour over the years; I collect seeds and pods and organic plant fibre, dried grasses and leaves that all get 'twined' into string and light rope; I collect whatever fabrics I come across, off-cuts from canvases, favourite garments, old towels, body wax strips, mattress protectors, the occasional hotel pillow slip, so full of strangers' dreams, night sweats, tears and spit; I collect serviettes from restaurants that have touched the hands and mouths of so many unknown patrons, the stains from lipstick and food grunge or from bones that get wrapped up in them somehow guide or inform the dyeing process. I use a dye technique that is called 'rust and tannic dyeing'. It is a pretty basic process where ferrous sulphate gives me a range of buff-rust-ochres and the tannic acid gives me a range from iron black to mauve-grey and it suits silk, cotton and linen particularly well.
Linde Ivimey in response to questions from Beatrice Gralton, September 2001
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