Excerpt ROLLO press release - The Memory Girl and Other Stories, 2008
Philippa Found, ROLLO Contemporary Art, London
Michelle Souter, draws, paints and stitches tales of uncomfortable relationships and childhood. Distorting her own autobiography with interjections of other peopleís stories in The Memory Girl and Other Stories, Souter weaves a fantastical world within the gallery space.
With overtones of Tracey Emin, Paula Rego and Louise Bourgeois combined; Souter is part of the next generation of emerging artists tackling darker themes of female experience.
The Memory Girl and Other Stories at ROLLO Contemporary Art will be Michelle Souterís first solo show since graduating from Central St Martins MA in Fine Art in 2007, where her degree show collection was sold out to renowned collectors. Souterís work has also been included in Magical Thinking, Elevator Galleryís opening show in 2007, ROLLO Preview 08, PAPER and The Truth Isnít Sexy Leeds 2007; a charity auction raising money against sex slavery. Michelle Souterís exhibition at ROLLO is part of the galleryís commitment to promoting female art in the UK, following critically acclaimed exhibitions: Maybe Too Nude Paula Rae Gibson and Cast: Angela Reilly in the last 4 months.
Souterís work is founded in life drawing; deforming and mutilating the traditional female figure with animalistic components, the repetition of genitalia and genital symbols and the inclusion of seemingly random text; lyrics from songs, personal memories or quotes taken out of context.
The work appears confessional, obsessive and fantastical whilst displaying her incredible skill in the traditional art subject of anatomical drawing.
To create her mono-prints Michelle Souter must draw in mirror image on the back of paper which is pressed against an inked up board. In addition to drawing in reverse Souter uses her non writing hand to draw her mono-prints. The results imbue Souterís work with a childlike aesthetic, suggest a link to psychoanalytical practice and free association and emphasises her incredible skill in drawing.
The idea of memory and personal history is built upon in Souterís sculptural work, using found and abandoned materials from charity shops- blankets, clothes, household materials- Souter creates hanging sculptures which are instantly vested with stories and personal histories.
ARTIST STATEMENT 2010
Throughout my work the fanatical accretion of sewn paraphernalia represents itself as an extension of the body; sewing becomes a ritualistic act, obsessive, confessional and highly intimate.
The work itself begins with drawing taken from studies of medical textbooks and gynaecological diagrams. From this I construct sewn representations of these drawings to present an intimate detail of matriarchal relationships, parental ambiguity and skewed account of childhood events.
My current work consists of large-scale A1 ink drawings, obsessive and repetitive the work presents itself in floral symbols, genitals, life drawing and fragments of texts, songs, secrets and pieces of overheard conversations which are there stitched into the memories of fabric.
My own childhood experience, and experience as a female artist become layered and collaged with these fragments.
Fragmentation is a key issue, both theoretically and literally Ė the sewn work seeks to subvert the craft like culture of tea and biscuits, itís kitsch as well as dark, sickly sweet and violently sour. The drawings and embroidery become entwined and entangled with the sewn sculptural installations, which recall artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Louise Bourgeois. The fanatical repetition of symbolic objects becomes cathartic and obsessive; Kusama resurrects the phallic object over and over in her work, simultaneously creating a world full of penile assemblages, and polka dots.
Kusama describes herself as an obessional artist, my obsession is collecting, and collating childhood events, regurgitating them and making sense of them through drawings, fabric and stitches. The sewing becomes a suture and the drawing becomes a scar, a fable with fantastical recollection and painful secrets imbued within pattern.