The exhibition is a visceral examination of the impact of the Virgin myth on contemporary female identity by artist, Cathy Hayes. The show’s immaculate conception occurred during a life drawing session, when the artist first noted the situations resemblance to the Annunciation: the vulnerable nakedness and silent endurance of the female figure.
A series of works have thus emerged which explore the virgin/whore binary in the representation of women – an opposition which persists in our cultural mentality today, perpetuating the idolatry of femininity by its adherence to these idealised categories. In Hayes’ images, high heels become our crown of thorns; material objects become emblematic of the objectification of what constitutes womanhood. Her vision probes at themes of Christianity such the Crucifixion and the Ascension, while reflecting their influence on our treatment on pregnancy and birth – our desire to ritualise the natural.
The artist explores recurring tropes in constructions of the feminine, the pieces also envisage and re-appropriate the female icon for the 21st century audience. A commentary on the falsehoods of woman, her work equally uncovers and depicts a sense of innate agency emanating from beneath the façade of beauty. Created with striking visual capacity and vibrancy, Hayes’ work melds the ideological, the socio-political and the aesthetic to produce a thought-provoking collection that contemplates our relationship to consumerism, reliquary, and our own bodies.