Still Life (Makeup Shelf)

Still Life (Makeup Shelf)

Sally Mairs

This work is a self-portrait of a young female fine art student in her final year, suffering from a painful and visible chronic health condition which makes her question her values as a woman and as an artist. Utilising the structure of still life, the ink on paper work examines a familiar sight to many young women: the dressing table. However, in the socio-political/economically turbulent year of 2017, the dressing table is replaced with a rickety, homemade shelving unit which is utterly unstable. There is no face in the mirror, a conscious decision which rejects the old, patronising label of ‘vanity’. The form of the pill packet- another familiar sight to a lot of women- manifests in different objects, such as the packet of birth control pills, the medication for the subject’s condition, and the clean, discarded paint palette; symbols of female contraceptive pressures, personal limits (of both mental and physical allowance), and disillusionment/lack of inspiration respectively. Every single object in the composition matters, however it is up to the viewer to recognise these symbols and how they may correlate to their own story.

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