Art, photos, and words by Samuel Matthewman
As a boy, I remember having the pressure of becoming a stoic man, portrayed and encouraged in every element of my horizon. It engulfed me.
By finding research upon this feeling and the effects of, such as the alarming rate of suicide within men, I felt compelled to explore it further. Multiple studies spanning four decades have researched this pressure, one paper Unpacking the Man Box is a study that has defined its walls. I wanted to reinforce a new narrative to what a man’s strength can consist of: a delicate, nurturing weaving of emotional complexity.
These ceramic casts have been created from slip cast moulds. A process of taking a copy of a live arm and by transferring it into plaster can be cast multiple times from liquid clay into a tangible replica. Creating the original copy is, in itself, an intimate bonding experience where I engaged my male-presenting friends and relatives with questions upon their own experience within “the man-box”. Then with the addition of subverting the use of rope, using knots taught by my father and knitting which was self-taught, I disrupted the utility of the object. By making it ornamental, I negate a pressure upon masculine self-sufficiency and rigid gender roles.
Along with the UniSA’s Contemporary Art Graduate Exhibition at the end of the year, my work, in a debut solo exhibition, Man-akin, will be presented in August for SALA (South Australian Living Arts Festival). The exhibition will be an amalgamation of these pieces presented at the end of last year with the addition of an ambitious sculpture consisting of 30 ceramic casts and over 200 meters of rope. Details will be released with the SALA Program later this year.
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