Grotesque Companion

Solo Exhibition

Onwards Studio
Newcastle, NSW Australia
June 2021

“Grotesque Companion” explores the ways in which pain can reshape or distort the body by employing imagery of the grotesque. This series describes my own experience with chronic pain, caused by illness and injury and my ongoing struggle to accept the ways my body has been altered by pain.

Illness or injury encumbers and warps the body making it feel abnormal and unfamiliar, it can complicate one’s relationship with their body. Even when the illness is cured or the injury mended, the pain can be enduring. For many folks with chronic pain, the pain can become inseparable from one’s experience of the body, it is an unceasing intrusion of an unwelcome companion.

Inspired by grotesques depicted in the decorative arts, the beasts at first appear as an illness invading the body. Then, when excised from the body, the vessel has transmogrified and is inalienable from the grotesque as pain takes hold. The anthropomorphic qualities of the vase, as well as its fragility, make it a perfect symbol for the afflicted body. The vessel has both a utilitarian purpose, from medicine containers to funerary urns and is a source of aesthetic pleasure, much like the human body. In the case of “Grotesque Companion”, though the vessel has been devoured by pain, it still holds purpose and has reconciled to its transformation.

Photography by Shan Rose Photography