Utilising various creative practices, Gillian Neish explores the realm of science and reproduction, allowing test tubes, stem cells and medical imaging to imagine new routes for motherhood. Collaboration and artistic practice are critical props for lives reinvented and speculation to be materially grounded. Neish’s jipelo as surrogates and companions, created and reformed, are items in a process of divination, which is Neish’s own world-forming beyond the normative practice of child-rearing. The artist’s practice is a lipele and the images are jipelo – we collude with the artist in a playful divination of meaning which can be a clinical remedy for the maker and a treatment of sorts for the beholder.
In SPACE+, an anthropomorphic entity undertakes a programme of clinical interventions, carrying its own inner-life Toy, as if performing for Neish the various stages of a serious, perhaps ante-natal, checking and balancing. The visual culture of the scan/ x-ray coupled with toys is redolent of gestation and birth. To approach Neish’s work from this angle introduces possibilities within a gendered reading: however these artefacts of creative practice are on this count not so much stand-ins but symbolic equivalents to offspring of a conventional type. Neish makes a point of not ranking one above the other – both types are constructive, creative courses of action. Her work could be seen as a toy-as-protector; practice as plaything; a ‘some’ thing receiving a potent investment from the artist as a reflexive being but there also lies a disturbing sense the toys having been irradiated/exposed: fur stripped, no longer comforter. Is the sharp, leading edge of our digital surhuman world finding less and less room for the tatty objects of the humans of yesteryear?
Digital media, print, drawing, artist books, artefacts.
Scientific collaboration, imagining artificial reproduction.
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Images from the SPACE+ Exhibition.