words & artwork Stephanie Doddridge
Stephanie Doddridge is an emerging contemporary artist working on Kaurna Country. Her work spans across ceramics, textiles, sculpture and installation. Stephanie takes an autobiographical approach to art making, reflecting on personal experiences and feelings and representing them through sculptural practice. She engages with metaphors of the self, and investigates notions around skin, embodiment and psychoanalysis. Upon completion of a Bachelor of Contemporary Art at the University of South Australia, Stephanie was selected to exhibit in the 2021 Hatched: National Graduate Exhibition, at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. Stephanie is currently studying a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours).
Using psychoanalytic theories as a lens, this work investigates the relationship between psyche, skin and cloth. In considering my own body as a site of abjection, I explore past events which shape my experience of embodiment through physical and psychical impacts. The connection between internal and external challenges my own sense of self identity in the face of constant abjection. I am guided by Surrealist traditions of drawing from the psyche to create sculptural forms.
The relationship between psyche and skin is constant interchange of cause and effect. Psychological?stress, fears and anxieties manifest?on the skins surface as disease and depigmentation. External lesions?cause psychological distress. Unconscious fears are visualised through the skins surface.
Skin itself becomes a site of both beauty and abjection, and elicits responses of both attraction and disgust. It is a site of decay, of ageing, trauma, disease and degeneration. It is a border between self and the world, a vessel which contains abject fluids, and which those fluids breach, yet proportion and harmony is found in skin. Contemporary focus on skin and beauty has brought about the notion that skin is changeable. It can be customised, cut and stitched to adjust, treated like cloth. Skin and cloth hold intimate knowledge of one another. We are wrapped in cloth from birth to death, we sleep in it, we bathe with it, it protects us, hides us and forms to our shape. Cloth becomes a supplementary skin—hiding the abject skin. Cloth forms part of our external identity. We project our?internal sense of self onto the surface of the skin to form our identity.
Historical fascinations with anatomy as a spectacle have informed my use of wax as a medium. Wax substitutes skin to become intermeshed with cloth. Like skin, wax flakes, cracks, wrinkles, protects and forms a?skin as it solidifies. Cloth is the other predominant medium, which brings connotations of comfort and safety, and clothing as a second skin.