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Slice of Heaven

Molly Turner

@ Haus of Vovo


It’s been quite a year. (And a bit, nearly two.)

Our physical worlds have shrunk to the perimeter of houses, travel limited to extravagant strolls from bedroom to kitchen via hallway or bathroom. The daily complexity of life itself has compressed to fill the space between treasured objects and the deliberate and increasingly habitual pattern of our movements. Minutes-spent-staring-out-the-window contrast with the rest of the world and all of its noise, movement, difference; life. The heavy umbilical cord we call internet both amplifies and reduces connection.

Hardly surprising, it has made us all a little thoughtful.

What it made Molly Turner, perhaps, is visionary.

Historically, the idea of angels has manifested at times of struggle, in times of isolation and duress. These beings have manifested through visions. The leader of the Bahá’í faith, Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in a subterranean pit for four months and beheld a vision of one. While I cannot attest to this, perhaps this altered state allowed something similar to what we refer to as the creative impulse.

A state in which we either

Show things as they are

Or as they are not.

I am not surprised to be confronted by angels here, nor that their focus has become familiar and domestic. It was late in the 4th century when they decided that angels could be categorised, and that they had different missions and responsibilities. It’s nice that. And good world building. You can create all the creatures you like but you only really breathe life into them if you give them something to do. What Turner’s angels do is give significance to the immediacy of what surrounds us. They are in service to things as disparate as the AFL and tomato-based chutney. They inhabit these flat planes of space, wrangled into being with thick thread and buttons to keep them firmly in position.

Proximity abounds. From the subjects of the artworks which reflect Turner’s various immediacies, to the way in which she has made them. When you use life itself, when you reference its symbols and objects as a primary source of your art-making, you are not just creating art, but documenting time and configuring an intimate mythology.

It is closeness which breeds authenticity.

When you make art in the immediacy of your living room you unconsciously weave into it all of the things of your personal universe; scraps from loved ones, threads from popular culture, the materia prima – the raw materials, the elements. What manifests is a rawness, and a sense of urgency. Some things are made, others are drawn forth.

In this gallery the embroideries and paintings are panels within panels within walls within floors. The entire space is part of the artwork, and when we step into it, we become part of it. Not quite angels, obsessed with our particular desires. These spaces have become one large unfolding tapestry. It tells the story of Molly Turner for the last couple of years. It also tells you a little about yourself, what you laugh with, what catches your eye.

We should probably note that in theology, Angels are spiritual beings who do not eat or excrete and are genderless.[1] Considering this, Turner’s figures spend an awful lot of time revelling in the physical. In the meat and bones of life. In the eating, vomiting, hungover, sensual, and defecating parts especially. These angels are not fallen but they are profane. They are fleshy and curvaceous and entirely human, full of holes. Faulty even.

I wonder at this with the prevalence of buttons.

Because they are everywhere. Amidst the thread and the wool and the paint and the textiles, and even the stuffing, there exist these borders made of buttons. They are sewn to fabric; they are embedded into clay. They make perimeters, they define moments, and they create separations.

Buttons are interesting. On clothing we use them to keep the fleshy parts tucked away. At some point in the eighties, they made them dysfunctional and turned this act of exposing and enclosing into ornamentation. It didn’t stick. The appeal of the slow reveal was too strong. Like Turner’s angels, we enjoy revelling in the flesh. On the internet we use them to perform time and space travel. One instant here, the next instant there.

Artists are great evocateurs.

This means that they show you things that make you think of other things.

When I stand in front of these textile pieces it makes me think of travel. It reminds me of when I stood in a darkened room and looked at the medieval tapestry of The Lady and The Unicorn which had been made around 1500AD. It also reminds me of the first time I used a sewing machine in high school and watched the girl next to me accidentally sew her finger. She sat there, pale as a marshmallow waiting for the teacher to free her from the machine with a pair of pliers. The whole spectrum in an instant.

Memories are a bit like those internet buttons. Sending you from place to place in a heartbeat or the fizzle of a neuron, collecting images which are yours alone to form the most personal of tapestries.

Tricky Walsh

Director, Haus of Vovo



[1] Wikipedia. Angels in Art. Also a few other places on the internet who had done the old copy and paste.