Uncomfortable truths in art
IT could be part of a giant sea anemone.
An evocation of tentacles swaying in the water. Of mesmerising colour.
But Susan Roux’s award-winning piece is in black and white, as if stranded on a beach. And its title, Wives, suggests the artist wants us to think about her stitch and paper-covered ‘tentacles’ differently.
They in fact represent wives – women taken as ‘second wives’ in the 17th century when the Dutch came ashore at Cape Town, WA and Jakarta, as Roux explains.
“These are body-sized bolster cushions,” she said, touching her work.
“The colonisers came from the Netherlands; they were very uncomfortable sleeping on the ship so they slept with a bolster cushion.
“When they landed they took a second wife.
“The first wife stayed in the Netherlands.
“So it was the comfort of the man and the discomfort and trauma of the second wife.”
Roux, who came to Perth from South Africa six years ago and lives in Wembley Downs, has covered the bolster cushions with Canson paper and thread to create a new tactile surface.
Artist Helen Roux’s awardwinning work Wives.