Women’s History Month 2020

As it’s Women’s History Month I thought I would share with you why my favourite female artist, Rachel Whiteread, had such an impact in my understanding of art.

I first came across Rachel Whiteread’s work when I was studying for my A levels. I visited the Tate gallery and saw a cast of a hot water bottle. Why this caught my attention, I’m not too sure but as I read the information about the piece, it completely grabbed me. Whiteread had completely turned my idea of art around and it was so simple and unique!

Whiteread’s work involves turning things inside out and allows us to see the spaces which we never see or would even ever think about. By pouring plaster into a hot water bottle, then removing the rubber casing, we are left with the perfect shape and form of what’s inside. Similarly, Whiteread did the same with a bath and again it allows us to see things in the reverse, the negative space,  I was mesmerised by what I was seeing as it confuses the brain and goes against everything we know.

Whiteread went on to cast bigger spaces, her most famous being Ghost (1990 – see image) where she cast a whole room and then House (1993) where she cast a whole 3 story Victorian house. It was this that won her the Turner Prize that year, being the first woman to do so.

When I think about her work, I still think how clever her ideas and messages are. It has taught me that art is about making people see, encouraging people to question what is around them and not take things at face value. Art acts as a prompt and it is up to the viewer to explore and understand it in their own way.

As a result of Whiteread’s influence, I spent a whole year of my degree experimenting with plaster casting using wine bottles. I was exploring the idea of the universal object, order and conformity, something which I have rebelled against for most of my life!

What do you think of her work?




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