Kitchen Table Last Threads
13 January 2006 to 24 February 2006
Marcia Bennett-Male’s exquisite sculptures are inspired by foodstuffs from the African-Caribbean market that dominates the area of South London where her studio is – everyday things such as stems of ginger, scotch bonnet chillies, chicken heads, feet and bones – all rendered with a classicist’s eye for detail: although her work has a conceptual resonance and edge, her current influences are Dutch and Spanish seventeenth-century still life paintings with their sinister depiction of everyday objects.
An important factor in these works is the use of ‘reclaimed’ stone, sourced from various architectural sites where the buildings would have been paid for with slave trade money. Thus a pig’s foot is hewn from the literal debris of a gone but not forgotten colonial era.
This appropriation and reworking of grimy old chunks of masonry, implicitly makes claim for one relatively unrecorded history of a people, over another more familiar and grandiose one.
Kitchen Tables, Last Threads also showcased some of Bennett-Male’s embroidery pieces, which, rich with personal and universal symbolism, are her attempt to deal with her long-standing mental health problems. Looking inwards, they deal with personal demons, but never come across as angst-ridden: they are infused with colour and subversive humour. As with her carvings, the pleasure resides in the wonderful disjunction between subject and object.