Elucidate

27/07/2019 - 17/08/2019

Lily Mae Martin

Lily Mae Martin
Moorabool

2018

ink on cotton paper

76.00 x 56.00 cm

$3,300.00

Elucidate

The first time I saw Lily Mae Martin’s work, I was overcome by a range of different feelings. Terror. Pain. Anxiety. Sadness. And amidst all of this, the overwhelming sense of recognition. Martin speaks to an unspoken aspect of womanhood and motherhood in particular that is so often ignored. Her work is confronting and brave, unshackled from the fear of niceties that women so often feel we need to conform to.

The sense of being bound and restricted is common in Martin’s pieces, and Elucidate brings this to the forefront. Her representations of women shielded by their hair and tethered in ropes call to my mind the image of Medusa. Mythologized as a monster and enemy to men, Medusa’s story has been used for centuries as a warning to women who exist outside of the margins of social acceptability. Martin explores the idea of the monstrous feminine, using sparseness, shadow and the imagery of shackles to conversely represent women in our most untethered forms. The blooming bellies of pregnancy speak to a power that has terrified patriarchy throughout history. Faces sheathed in veils of hair speak to our inscrutability, while ropes binding our arms across breasts remind us of the ways this power has been brutalised and tamed.

It’s impossible to view Martin’s work without a sense of anger. Not at the artist herself, but at what she is seeking to uncover and give voice to. Like Medusa, Martin’s figures are mythical in nature. In the age of #MeToo and riding the crest of a new tidal wave of women’s power and liberation, Elucidate makes clear what history has tried for so long to bury - that women are so much more than we have been taught we are allowed to be. We are complicated, horrifying, rageful, connected and powerful. What is considered monstrous in us is our blazing humanity and life. Our bodies have been abused and tormented, but we alone are the ones who own them and control the direction of our stories.

Martin’s ability to depict so clearly what strikes fear into the heart of man is astonishing. Elucidate is a condemnation of history and patriarchy, but it is also a shattering call to arms to reconnect with our true nature. I am grateful to have been exposed to Martin’s work, and cannot wait for others to experience the revelation of self that each and every one of her pieces calls to. 


Clementine Ford, 2019

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