STILL LIFE | WILD PLACES - ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Virginia Woolf said Katherine Mansfield stank like a ‘civet cat’. Alfred Orage called her ‘the marmoset’. In a fictional representation, DH Lawrence called her a ‘restless bird…a bird of paradise’. She and her husband were referred to as ‘the two tigers’ by friends. She often described herself in animal terms, in one instance as ‘a white duck with a round eye’.
We’d be more inclined to describe her as a national treasure and believe that Katherine Mansfield deserves greater recognition as one of New Zealand’s leading authors. In order to champion Mansfield’s incredible talent to a contemporary audience, The Metropolitan Club, in association with Katherine Mansfield House & Garden and Hendrick’s Gin, will be hosting the Still Life | Wild Places exhibition and event series, from the 7th August - 31st October 2021 at Mansfield's childhood home, 25 Tinakori St, Thorndon in Wellington.
Considered in her time to be the equal of the same Lawrence and Woolf who described her so animalistically above, Mansfield was a literary innovator who explored many contemporary themes in her writing. She was fiercely critical of humans tendency to anthropocentrism, a human-centred world view, and often used wild animalistic imagery and metaphors in her writing. Mansfield’s stories blur the boundaries between people, animals and nature, in strong contrast to the dominant patriarchal culture of the early 20th century that believed humans, particularly men, were separate from, and superior to, nature, which they exploited according to their needs. She wrote about the ‘others’ of that culture, women, children, animals and plants, subjects generally regarded as inferior and of secondary importance.
These themes are incredibly topical today, given the increasing separation and disregard that humanity has for the natural world, which is resulting in global environmental destruction. Given this urgent situation, we believe it’s a great time to re-engage with Mansfield’s work through the eyes of a new generation of contemporary women artists including taxidermists, jewellers, painters, photographers, textile and installation artists.
Antoinette Ratcliffe, Karley Feaver, Hayley Theyers, Jane Thorne, Paola King-Borrero, Lauren Drescher and Steph Lusted will explore these concepts and transform the domestic spaces of the 1888 home into a series of curious new settings inspired by her life and works. They will incorporate ethical taxidermy installations, refurbished dollshouses and vintage girl’s annuals, photographic prints, large scale mobiles and ethereal projections, that offers visitors an opportunity to pause and reflect on our relationship to each other, to the natural world and to the animals that we live alongside.