THE ESSENCE OF WOMAN


The Essence Of Woman

As Christmas approaches we are expected to embrace all that is required of us – finding and wrapping the perfect gift, decorating the home with festive cheer, throwing lavish parties, cooking beautiful meals while dressed to impress… All of this with enthusiasm and grace. Where do we get the energy? We are naturally driven to achieve perfection in all areas of our lives. Let us explore THE ESSENCE OF WOMAN and celebrate all that we are.

THE ESSENCE OF WOMAN – SEXUALITY

I celebrate sexuality with 3D abstract creations such as ‘Fur Pocket’, created from the pocket of a fur coat, with intricate detail hand sculpted and stitched to create abstract feminine folds. Contrasting textures of wool, silk and fur, embellished in beads and sequins, creates a rich and versatile soft sculpture with fabric manipulation and layering techniques. Skin colour palette of cream, blonde, taupe, mushroom and silver.

The Essence of Woman - Sexuality
Sexuality – Fur Pocket

Embracing your sexuality always invites criticism. The ‘Bitch’ series of A3 panels explores derogatory names given to strong women. Offensive words cannot harm you but does expose the insecurities of those offering the insult. Beautiful patterned fabrics expresses the vitality of woman, embellished in beads and sequins to enhance colour and pattern, with bold black block lettering created from a rather fabulous pair of sequined trousers I can no longer squeeze into!

The Essence of Woman - The Bitch Series
‘SLAG’ from The BITCH Series of A3 panels.

THE ESSENCE OF WOMAN – FERTILITY

Fertility is at the core of womanhood, with children at the centre of family life. Miscarriage, fertility treatment and the inability to have children are ongoing concerns for many women. ‘Womb’ is an abstract 3D textile created from strips of recycled fabrics, an intricate web of knotted layers embedded in a dense mobile fringe of wool and fabric pompoms. A cluster of pearls nestles in the womb lining, demonstrating both the fragility and strength of a new life. But, of course, some women choose not to have children, myself included. It does not make us less than. To be independent and career minded are valuable life choices.

The Essence of Woman - Fertility
‘Womb’ explores the fragility of fertility

THE ESSENCE OF WOMAN – FAMILY

Creating and maintaining a family unit is to be applauded, especially today when divorce rates are so high. I enjoyed a proper northern family upbringing, developing a ‘rich and vibrant tapestry’ of childhood memories ‘steeped from birth in family tradition…the generations…from Grandmother to Mother to Child…cherished memories…enriched by the measure of time…embellishments of a life lived”. To nurture with love and commitment ensures a good foundation upon which children thrive. ‘Reducing Us To Simply A Heartbeat’ is a patchwork applique created from vintage and patterned fabrics capturing the essence of woman, embellished with hand embroidered poetry creating a window of personal memories for viewers to indulge in. A rich colour palette of golden hues adorned in beads, sequins and old jewels embodies the loving old aunties and grandmothers I adore.

The Essence of Woman - Family
‘a rich and vibrant tapestry’

THE ESSENCE OF WOMAN – ADVERSITY

Overcoming adversity is what we do. Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women, affecting 1 in 8. I have had it twice, undergoing both lumpectomy (removal of the lump and surrounding tissue) and mastectomy (removal of the breasts). The cancer series explores the brutality of surgery and the psychological trauma of living in the aftermath. Poetry captures the essence of the experience, unable to accept the imperfections, ‘I shall always fear the sight of me, my frail and frightened breast’, urging the question ‘Am I sexy now?’

The Essence of Woman - Adversity
‘Carve me up’

Living in a world bombarded by perfection certainly impacted on my ability to accept what had happened. Being an artist enabled me to be objective about the experience and I created a vagina nest with my hair which fell out during chemotherapy treatment.

The Essence of Woman - Adversity
3D vagina lined with my own hair

THE ESSENCE OF WOMAN – LOVE

Our ability to love and be loved is to be cherished. We have the capacity to move forward when relationships end and we love again. ‘Three Ages of Woman’ explores love and our ability to embrace our own fragility and vulnerability within a relationship. Hand embroidered poetry embellishes panels of patchwork, emotional layering to which the viewer can identify on a personal level: ‘How I miss your tender heart. The way you opened up and let me climb inside. I was always so careful not to tear apart your fragile walls…Tiptoeing amongst the sweetness of our good times…My weaknesses you did delight in. Ammunition for your games…’

The Essence of Woman - Love
‘Ammunition for your games’

You can explore THE ESSENCE OF WOMAN by visiting The Womanhood Collection and here . Celebrate all that you are and be brave!

Christine Cunningham

Creating art from recycled materials using traditional methods (applique, patchwork, quilting) with a modern exploration into fabric manipulation and padded structure. Unusual materials include hair, plastic, rubber, metal, disintegrating fabrics and found objects. I source my treasures from carboot sales, charity shops and freecycle. Original poetry captures the essence of an experience, an emotional layering to which the viewer can relate on a personal level. I have two bodies of work. The Natural Collection explores abstract flower design and the seasons, religion, visions of India and Buddhism, childhood nostalgia and the seaside. The Womanhood Collection explores natural states of being including breast cancer, sexuality, the ageing process, anatomy, love, fragility and independence. I was inspired by my own experiences of breast cancer, both the physical brutality and fragility of living in the aftermath.

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'Womb' explores the fragility of fertility with an intricate web of knotted and frayed fabrics housing a cluster of pearls.