August 8, 2018

What place does gender have in our perception of skill?

Megan Rudden


After exhibiting sculptural work at ‘DOK’, the last remaining building from Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, and now converted into an art gallery, I realised my granddad had worked on this now-defunct shipyard as a Shipwright.

I am interested in material processes, which I consider to have a relationship to systems of the flesh, exploring the bodily connotations of the foundry and of casting metals such as iron. In relation to this, I am interested in how certain processes, and even whole industries, became associated with the dominant gender. I hope to question how our ideas of what constitutes a ‘skill’ are often dictated by the power and sex of the worker undertaking the task, perhaps not always in direct correlation to the difficulty of the task itself.

What began as an investigation into a personal family connection, lead on to further consideration of wider issues of class, gender, labour, skill and reproduction. The writing was made to accompany a sculptural installation I created from welded stainless steel, cast iron, cast aluminium and a video. The writing was played through speakers at voice level, read out by the artist.