Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’

Starting this project I found that Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’ seemed to resonate with me. Moving into a small room in Halls that has transformed into a habitat where I work, eat, sleep, hang my washing… the list goes on; therefore there were a lot of objects to consider. One I found particularly stimulating was my washing. The concept of a washing line, where you hang up all your clothes for the world to see seems very intriguing. It sparks the idea of what you decide to show for yourself, this barrier between what you make public and keep private starts to break down. For me then, the washing line started to become this symbol of hanging up your different identities, what you choose to wear and put on to go out and show to society.

Hang washing in my room
Hanging washing in my room
Quick Sketch of washing in my room

After experimenting and taking photos of washing in my room I started to delve into the idea of identity. These clothes that I hang up is a snippet of who I am and how I decide to present myself to the world. There is something personal about each item of clothing that I hang up to dry and so evoke different questions: do these clothes represent who I am? Are they a projection of who I want to be? You get this awareness of yourself, and the all different elements of yourself when you hang up each item of clothing.

Polly Nor’s “Shedding Skin” installation captures the concept of putting up a front to the world. She creates work exhibiting “women and their demons” which shows women shedding their skin to reveal this underneath demon that represents an unstable part of herself that she hides from the rest of the world. I thought that there was a parallel between shedding your skin and taking off your clothes, as both exemplify hiding behind an exterior to give other people a different version of yourself.

watercolour sketch of the imagery in my head

I found myself drawn to Polly Nor’s ‘shedding skin’ idea of hanging up your skin as if you remove this physical front once you get home after a long day. I wanted to combine that idea with the washing line. I discovered another artist called Alia Ali and loved her ‘Under a Thread’ series, in which her concept was the notion that everyone is connected by textile, that we are all defined by the kind of dress that we have. We become wrapped up in it. Working from this idea that we get wrapped up in this identity I came to produce a series of images to exemplify the idea that we strip off this facade that we camouflage ourselves in. I worked off my found object of a washing line to photograph a person bandaged in it, like a struggle with yourself about who you feel like you are. Getting entangled in the different skins you hang up at the end of the day. 


Photo Collage to show a person draped on a washing line
Collage #2

I experimented with collage to give the illusion of the figure being hung up multiple times as if the different skins (or personalities) were being hung up on a washing line. I liked the effect that resulted with this, the disarray of discarded, listless bodies giving the impression that your appearance is something that you throw off and hang up at the end of the day and that your true identity is something beneath the surface. To take this further and to reiterate that message of hanging up your facade, I cut and hung the photos onto a washing line like in Polly Nor’s ‘Shedding Skins’.