I’ve thinking about wax and its materials properties; its ability to record impressions and to preserve, as well its metamorphic qualities; it melts, it solidifies, it is a material of flux. The importance of clothing became apparent to my with recent work, The Bell Jar,  and it is something I wish to further explore. Clothing is a very intimate item. On one hand it is the public outside projected, and on the other, it is what we press against our skin, protecting our bodies.

Whiteread’s work speaks to me of presence through absence, and wax of a recording and preserving process. This has led me to the idea of the death mask and the above piece. I enjoy the folds and creases in the wax, its precise and tactile nature accurately represent the jacket sleeve the image originated from. Wax impression seems synonymous with the concept of photographic index that Laura Mulvey speaks of: the imprint is both a direct trace of the jackets sleeve, but also refers backs to the original item.

‘The index has a privileged relation to time, to the moment and duration of its inscription: it also has a physical relation to the original of which it is the sign……The trace of the past in the present is a document, or a fact, that is preserved in but also bear witness to the elusive nature of reality and its representations. It is here that the reality of the photograph as index becomes entwined with the problem of time.’ – Laura Mulvey Death 24x a Second

A large focus of my practise over the last three years has been about this document, this trace that photography creates that serves to break linear conceptions of time, perception and lived experience. I think my forays into wax, chalk and objects are a way of expanding this exploration.

Larger scale work repeating the process brought about distinctly different results. The work is less like a death mask than it is an exhumed grave. (But I suppose that’s not too extreme a diversion). Though only a couple of inches high, the piece is particularly imposing ,weighing over 15kg. The jacket was soaked in oil as a releasing agent and much still remains on the wax. This has given it an organic sheen, as though covered in its own fluids, it is disgusting and alluring.



James Sirrell