We live in an era under constant pressure to self-commodify: from the social media sites that require us to brand ourselves to networks like LinkedIn that ask us to serve-up a linear and cohesive narrative of time. Against this backdrop, "Alter Egos" operate as a transgressive space in which our expressive subjectivity can emerge and breakthrough the packaging we've created: they are a bridge between the self we are and the possibilities of who we might be.
Blurring boundaries between painting and sculpture as well as craft and fine art forms, Hatty Buchanan's Alter Egos draw on a mash-up of fashion, familial, artistic, historical and theatrical references to summon a multitude of characters that are typical of Hatty's playful approach towards the productive tensions among opposites. Whilst these works appear to be abstract, they are titled after the most popular women's names of the 1920s and 30s: Hilda, Dorothea and Maud connect the work to an era of social change, with new rights and shifting roles for women. But just like our day-to-day identities, each alter ego is unique, with its own origin story, its own personality, and character.
The work is handmade in the studio mobilising behaviours and processes particular to the material dispositions of cloth: textiles bend, fold, fray, caress, are cut, stitched and remade into new objects. The foundation of each piece is raw linen cloth that has been saturated with traditional mediums and oil paint so that paint and canvas become one: pure pigments are used directly from the tube, or with minimal colour mixing, to achieve a strength and clarity of colour. These painted canvases are then cut-up, reconfigured and sewn back together to form new works that fluctuate between handmade quilts, protest banners and formal abstract art.
Taking the form of tactile assemblages, each piece is crafted from a dynamic combination of textiles that reference a range of contexts and meanings: stiff painted canvas, crushed lame, lightweight and transparent voiles, limp imitation fur, wet-look synthetics, coquettish feathers and sparkly vintage threads are combined to produce unexpected compositions and configurations as a metaphor for the individual who resists easy placement and categorisation.
By employing a diverse array of textiles - aesthetic, utilitarian, mass produced, found, theatrical, repurposed or recomposed - Hatty's work investigates how different materials reflect identity. The variety of sources assembled reflects an eclectic material sensibility and leads to the creation of a non-hierarchical system, refusing to privilege the readymade over the hand crafted, or one history over another. Her hybrid artefacts soften the line between utility and style, crafting a body of work that explores the creative frictions between undoing and remaking, and position Alter Egos as a minor insurgency to the systems that freeze us in rituals of routine.