With little knowledge and context behind this project, and art exhibition, I took my intrigued self to the Mount Florida Gallery and Studios on a Saturday evening to join a party of people that had considered real -life legal cases and commissioned art works to be produced in response to the result of these cases. It was varied in media and format, and the only thread holding it together was that of Jill Kennedy-McNeill, a multi-disciplinary artist that works with textile, who has created not one, not two but three pieces as part of this project. Evocative and somewhat tangible, many of the works had a resonating effect, which lingered long into the evening.
Incorporating nine works into this space, along with the guests was a little on the side of ambitious. Despite that, I made my way through the exhibition, inhaling and interacting with each as was fit. The first was a theatrical piece documented on video with headphones attached, which was a response to the fact that only two statues in Edinburgh are celebrating women. Theatre director, Sofia Nakou and performance artist and choreographer, Becky O’Brien uses performance to play tribute to a key historical figure, one of the Edinburgh Seven, Sophia Jex-Blake, it’s clear metaphor is compelling.
Jill’s works were outstanding, creating more interactive and literal thought-provoking pieces. Her For The Relics piece, which was a textile booth, resembling a confessional space, was intended to be opened to reflect in, and effectively open the mind for contemplative thought. A response to a case that concluded with suicide by a farmer at the heart of a dispute, we are intended to consider those that are affected by these legal cases, with the suicide example we are encouraged to reflect on family members and loved-ones that have lost this farmer, the relics per se.
Similarly powerful is Cailleach, which was some form of Celtic pagan mask, which is both unshackling and yet also suppressing, this art piece can be interpretative, addressing identity and new lives. However, the strongest and most compelling of her pieces is the mirrored textile mask, Crime, Victimisation and Violence, which metaphorically considers reveals and conveys this notion of looking deep down at oneself to understand the victim, as we witness a blindfolded artist with a nod to Lady Justice, looking back at us in the mirrored sphere that sits at the centre of the piece. A hard-hitting work, this was the one that opened the gates for meandering mind musings.
And yet the others were interesting, a piece of prose in audio connected to a set of headphones, a piece of choir music, in response to imbalance in gender equality and identity. However, as an exhibition, Crime, Victimisation and Violence was the overarching and dominant work, as even the media, spherical mirror in the core of textiles, is rather unique.
Intrigued walking into the doors of the Mount Florida Gallery, I was just intrigued walking out. Where next they may go with these incredible responses to legal cases and equality has to be considered, and ambivalence becomes a forgotten word. It has only just raised more questions.
For more on the Scottish Feminist Judgements Project click here.