MARY SCOTT, WITHIN THESE WALLS INSTALLATION AT NARRYNA, DARK MOFO 2018
‘The smooth folds of her dress concealed a tumultuous heart’ – Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
The middle-class Victorian wife, tightly constrained by corset and crinoline, is the keeper of the domestic altar. Artist, Mary Scott, has created an enigmatic collage of image, sound and text that intimates the desires, prohibitions and transgression that lurk within the familiar acts of daily life.
An intense melancholy pervades an upstairs bedroom at Narryna in which time seems to have stopped. In the dim light a lone woman longs for escape while her dreams spool tantalisingly beneath her. A soundscape captures the turmoil of her innermost passions. From the bare branches of an old tree the distorted cries of birds permeate the interior and summon passers-by to her rescue.
The installation is supported by an exhibition of nineteenth century girls’ and women’s apparel drawn from Narryna’s extensive collection. Undergarments such asbodices, drawers, chemises, corsets, crinolines and bustles are fashioned with buttons, ribbons and fastenings and moulded by horse-hair padding, whalebone struts, steel hoops, wire mesh and firm stitching. They foreshadow pinched-in waists, drooping shoulders and sharply-defined silhouettes and the promise of feminine elegance, beauty and fecundity. Constriction underpinned restriction, impaired health and opportunity. Female bodies are conflict zones, battle grounds between private and public, intimate and formal, symbolic and blatant lie.