Extraordinary, and at times deeply shocking, still life images connecting the consumer and the act of consuming will go on show at Ffotogallery’s Turner House gallery in Penarth this month. Consumed: Stilled Lives is an exhibition featuring new work by Cardiff-based artist Dawn Woolley, a visual artist whose latest work provides a contemporary take on the traditional concept of still life painting. Often featuring silver plates, ornate glassware and expensive foodstuffs such as shellfish and exotic fruit, still life paintings became a fashionable way for the Dutch and Flemish to illustrate their wealth.
As the artist states: “The term ‘consume’ describes the act of eating as well as purchasing a commodity. The still life table expresses this dual meaning because the objects on display are edible and indicate an individual’s social position. I, therefore, approach the still life table as a portrait of a particular type of consumer. This allows me to view food in a still life as an expression of a relation between an individual and consumer society, and a symbol of the effect commodity consumption has on the consumer’s body.”
Some images, such as the Memorials series, are not for the faint-hearted. Dawn Woolley adds: “Memorials are neither still life nor portrait but represent the subject becoming nature morte. Rotting flesh is arranged among the paraphernalia of celebration, signalling the end of the consumer party.”
Consumed: Stilled Lives is part of a year-long series of special exhibitions, projects and events celebrating Ffotogallery 40th anniversary. It will run until 3 February 2018.
Night feeder, Celebrate © Dawn Woolley
Night feeder 2, Celebrate © Dawn Woolley
Scale 02, Celebrate © Dawn Woolley
Tongue, Memorial © Dawn Woolley
Relics © Dawn Woolley