Elizabeth Waggett’s “I am Woman, hear me roar” is triumph in the wake of trauma. This magnificent body of oil paintings and detailed drawings channels a newfound wisdom gained through her recovery from entire lower-body paralysis, transcending into her vibrant, strengthened self in present-day.
The exhibition title is a boisterous proclamation of her new sense of being, recognizing the powerful forces of fearlessness, authenticity and femininity that drove the emotion in these pieces. Blending influences from Eugène Delacroix and Théodore Géricault with her signature style, Waggett expertly balances the raw and unrefined with the elegant, colliding the intimate with the epic and often featuring unprimed canvas whose natural state works in tandem with the subjects in hand, primal yet scientific.
“‘I am Woman, hear me roar’ presents the boundaries I have pushed using the caliber of craft I possess and by stripping back and manipulating the work and materials in ways I haven’t previously attempted; increasing scale, blending textures and materials and destroying clean lines.” - Elizabeth Waggett
In close proximity to her artistic roots and Mancunian heritage, Waggett embraces Victorian textures and themes through delicate gilding. Whether the primary medium as seen in the title work or an accent to illuminate the underbellies of the animal kingdom, her inclusion of 22-karat gold leaf ties this robust body of work together, simultaneously de/reconstructing self and subsequently assuming form.
The psychologically charged Big Cats carry a certain tenacity and force; feared and admired in equal measure for their predatory skill, power and beauty. But any creature, irrespective of size, will fight to get what they need out of life in order to survive, it is the nature of all living things.
These smaller creatures, augmented by scale, become overwhelming and jarring to the viewer on a formal level, the composition and detail elevated and macroscopic.
The methodology of each work marries the specimens, mirroring the strength and robustness possessed by the apogee and minutiae of nature. These works invite one into a state of rueful contemplation, to make sense of the world around them and the part we all play as walking complexities.
“The idea for this solo show is about viewing the work from where I am right in this moment - within the journey - as well as giving a glimpse of where it’s going.
For a while I only focused on what was next and didn’t look back, but when I think about these pieces in particular, I don’t feel finished, there is something still to be said. Pausing to acknowledge that gave me the idea to start stripping back and manipulating the work in ways I haven’t done before; increasing scale, blending textures and materials, and destroying the clean lines of inception.
I couldn't make these works without journeying back to the UK to work with craftsmen and materials that have been pioneered in the fabric of the country for so long. With the finished pieces in mind, I knew I would be asking a lot from the materials and their limits; pushing the boundaries to the very edge, developing my own unique ways of using this precious, sumptuous, metal. The mystery that lies within each piece is captivating not only visually but physically too - they beg for you to reach out and touch them.
There is something poetic about how the work unintentionally parallels my life, but of course the artwork is the artist’s autobiography; influenced by both one’s history and evolution. These works embrace elements of my Mancunian heritage, with Victorian textures and themes that lead to what I’m most excited about – seeing how the LA sun is going to strike all of these works in new ways." - Elizabeth WaggettClose