CuratorSpace Artist Bursary #18: Lucy Cade

Lucy Cade is a London-based painter. Her paintings present females as avatars of emotions, set in imagined landscapes. The work draws on her own experiences of postnatal psychosis, which she explored through a recent Arts Council grant enabling her to undertake a residency in Italy to research Madonna & Child representations.

"My work allows me to articulate and process the traumatic experiences of postnatal psychosis (a temporary but severe state of insanity which affects 1 in 500 women after childbirth). The illness informs the armature of the work (beds, cages), through which I can explore memory and perception, dream vs reality: the objects I paint on and around literalise the 'baggage' through which I paint, the paint passing through the voile onto another surface and creating an alternate image, a trace of trauma.

In my work, painterly gesture is set against 'objectness', perhaps suggesting the mind-body dualism which is at the heart of the ongoing puzzle of psychosis - is it a moral or physical aberration? Is it removal to an environment remote from pathogenic triggers or chemical alterations in the brain that will reset the balance in these women's lives? My practice interrogates Psychosis - and more specifically Postnatal Psychosis, as related to motherhood, and as a phenomenon experienced in the body and in society/culture.

Women in films (directed by men) undergoing mental distress are painted in new combinations/contexts, suggesting secret narratives, - perhaps more appropriate to the embodied experience of psychosis. The trace of trauma is present in the work: I paint on voile and leave by-products on the surface underneath, creating another body of work. More figural than figurative, these by-products perform the uncanny.

While the paintings on voile hold the ‘original’ images - seen through and beside frames and sculptural gestures - they are fragile and slip from the gaze. This award will enable me to continue to be ambitious with my use of materials in the 3D realm, pushing the capacity of the objects to carry the paintings and to become a more bodily, audience-engaged way of communicating my experiences of postnatal psychosis and mental illness in general."

You can see more of Lucy's work on her website.


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