BOOBY HATCH (WO)manifesto: A Feminine Perspective of Century Manor (Hamilton Asylum for the Insane)
The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane began operation in 1876 in response to a need for the maintenance of “demented minds and lunatics.” Spanning over 529 acres, it was capable of housing nearly 1000 patients. Having spent my youth in the area I'm interested in this place and its history: female hysteria, harsh treatments and procedures (including restraints, lobotomies, electroshock therapy), vintage photographs, artifacts, tools and equipment, underground tunnels, ghost stories, and the spectacle of Sunday afternoon picnics on hospital grounds where affluent folks came to watch, tease and taunt patients as a form of free entertainment. Century Manor, the grand three-storey mansion that sits on Hamilton’s escarpment brow, is the only significant part of the original facility still standing but is under threat of demolition as the former asylum's lands are being sold by the Province of Ontario. Convinced that the building should stand as a bastion of the treatment and history of mental illness, I feel an urgency to record and document its essence. Booby Hatch (Wo)manifesto: A Feminine Perspective of Century Manor will explore the asylum's dark past in tangent with my own personal history of mental illness. The project's intent is to bring darkness to light by confronting how unresolved trauma lingers, smouldering in the shadows, permeating in the soil, the landscape, the structure (of both the asylum and myself). It speaks of suffocating, obstructed, constricted, asphyxiated shame.
I am the self-identified asylum, a twin, replicated image of myself and the haunting ghosts of my past, leaving a permanent stain, an imprinted ripple in time, like a deep covered hidden cut that festers, infects, poisons until finally being gouged out and exposed to decompose. The asylum keeps the secrets, deep in the walls, the rooms, the halls, the structure in its entirety. Years of neglect, half assed cosmetic fixes, layer upon layer of wallpaper and paint on crumbling structures where mould and decay prevail which until gutted, peeled back and excavated to its original foundation will continue to rot.
It's body, my body
It's history, my history
It's secrets, my secrets
It's shame, my shame
It's self, my self
I am a relic, aged and wrinkled over time, embodying my own history. Each line, each scar, recording my journey. Like the asylum, all is contained within haunting paranormal walls. I am the asylum’s gargoyle, a grotesque figure with open mouth, a protruding protector, projecting from its gutters, puking abscess all clear of the building, in an effort to protect the survived spirt, no longer trapped, unearthed and free. Important is the will to capture my presence in the asylum’s presence in the present.
The strength in my recent work lies in the fearless expression and embracement of my own personal truth and darkness. Work for this project will follow that same path however intersected this time with the added dimension of historical references to the Asylum’s documented records like an archeological dig uncovering remnants of time and place. The distinct aesthetic and sensibility of my work complements this subject matter, creating naked emotion with a savage and formally inventive approach to material and process. For this body of work I intend to push the limits of various mediums (drawing, pin hole photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, installation and video) some of which are new mediums to my practice. Work in progress for Booby Hatch (Wo)manifesto explores scars of the past, echoes of unheard screams and shadows of fallen battles and how these relate to the stigma mental illness while at the same time questioning whether there has been a significant change in the way mental illness is perceived and treated in contemporary society.
Works in Progress include: SCAR TISSUE SERIES