Launch Party – All Welcome
Thursday 18th July 6:30pm-8:30pm
Light As A Feather Stiff As A Board
New Works by Melissa Kime
“Did you ever play that game,
Light as a feather, stiff as a board?
One girl lays down,
and you surround her…
and you put your fingers
You put your fingers where?
Now you take your index finger…
and your middle finger…
and you put it under her
Now you have to imagine
that she’s incredibly light…
like she’s made out of air.
Light as a feather….Light as a feather, stiff as a board.
Light as a feather, stiff as a board.
Extract from The Craft – directed by Andrew Fleming, 1996
Kime’s paintings are set to a Roman Catholic backdrop they are cloaked in Catholic Folklore and magick. The women in her work perform rituals centred upon healing, jinx removal or the prevention of bad things happening-fertility spells and protection but mostly, these women are trying to connect together and survive, through the linking of menstrual blood, plaited hair and autobiographical experiences.
‘The way the women are linked and fold in on each other like crumpled limbs echoes a rule that I had to follow at my Roman catholic school where the same sex had to stand 6 inches apart and the opposite sex, 12 inches from one another as if to stop us infecting each other from the curse of womanhood or natural desire.
I only remember the females getting reprimanded for being too close and often heard the command of “unfold yourself girls” echoing through the bustling school corridors like an eerie wolfs cry. This quasi – persecution also happened when girls at my school fell pregnant; expelled and never mentioned again, as if they had ceased to ever exist. This punishment I guess would stop the ritualistic rippling effect of female hysteria that these pregnant girls could cause from coating the school in shame and transmitting their sins to anyone else, and so I was made subconsciously aware of the views that being a woman held and to me that often felt bad or uncomfortable. Leaving girlhood and having sexual desires or even being aware of one’s own body was wrong’. – Kime
16th century ideologies of Catholicism coupled with the rise and fall and rerising of feminism has caused female protagonists over the centuries to revolt the religious misconceptions of femininity. The dystopian narrative of Margaret Atwood’s, A Handmaids Tale, remarkably still echos in 2019, and the arguments of 1960s feminism continues beyond the backlash of the 1990s, leaving women of Kime’s generation still struggling to have control over their own bodies, independence and reproductive rights.
The influence of ‘Light as a Feather , Stiff as a Board’ harks back to the “the Craft’ where the four girls test their powers with the classic sleepover game, “Light as a Feather,” which requires one person to lie on the floor while the others form a circle around them and try to make them levitate by chanting “light as a feather, stiff as a board.” Such supernatural pursuits make for a compelling depiction of female joy, of revelling in one’s power with one’s friends and of creating an autonomous belief system for one’s self. The women remind us of the witches of Salem where they pull and heave a bloated Ophelia from the water after her illegal abortion. Ophelia’s drowning is a testament to the daring to take control back from religious doctrine. The women offer her up in a trance, so that she levitates into a state of freedom, while daises float by in the murky water signifying her innocence.
Kime weaves her way through the memory and activity of such women, women who were wise, clever ‘highly strung’, women who were healers or herbalists, people with inner knowledge and feminine secrets or simply those using their sexuality for it’s power over men, all may easily be accused of witchcraft, an effective weapon with which to silence or disempower them. A highly dangerous activity requiring the author to hide diary’s, notes recipes, even their bodies by stitching them into the layered folds of delicate needlework. This activity is mirrored within Kime’s practice where she layers paint, symbols and memory in honour and camaraderie with those that have gone before her. Linking them through plaited hair, hand-holding, sisterhood, blood rites and self projections of herself superimposed within their stories. Time and space move aside and individualism fades whilst she highlights the ancestral lineage of all women through all that is woman and the wrongs that have been done to them.
Melissa Kime was born in Wiltshire UK in 1989 and currently lives and works in London. She graduated with a BA Fine Art in 2011 from Falmouth University, with a postgraduate diploma in drawing from the Royal Drawing School in 2013 and with an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art in 2015. She has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad in both solo and group shows, she has won numerous prizes for both drawing and painting and her work is in many private collections.