1 &2
rubber gloves, sharp teeth & other pointy bits
18 January - 3 March 2013  
“As a young girl my mum would occasionally take me to community theatre plays and local art events. One particular play had a memorable array of fantastic costumes, all made from recycled clothing, curtains and accessories. A favourite garment for me was a long bodice worn by a tall skinny man - the costume was full of nipples from neck to knee and called the "Milky Way". After the show they auctioned the costumes and to my delight we ended up with that nipple clad creation. Soon after, while playing dress-ups with the costume, my sister and I noticed some of the stitching coming away to reveal a white lace-edged remnant peeking through, so with the curiosity of children, my sister and I ripped it apart like two animals pulling at the insides of some wild beastly prey. The costume was in pieces, but we discovered that it was stuffed full of baby clothes - which we used to dress-up our dolls. Even though the "Milky Way" was destroyed, the inspiration I gained from that costume has stayed with me all these years.  
In my teens I started working as a fashion machinist, from there I progressed on to a variety of jobs, from sewing leather garments through to wedding gowns. A few years on I established my own dressmaking business, making a variety of costumes for party-goers, dancers, performers, and even the occasional fetish garment. After spending more than 20 years in fashion, I now spend most of my time obsessing over my own art. My past vocation allows me to reflect on past techniques to create new works that typify my moods, ideas and particular style. I enjoy the challenge of pushing materials into forms and uses they weren't necessarily designed for. I am now coming full circle, and have recently started to add more fashion elements into my art pieces. I started using PVC years ago for a variety of costumes, mostly cheeky outfits for striptease artists. Although occasionally I would have someone turn up wanting something "special". One time, a gentleman placed a folded up water bed bladder on my counter wanting a wading suit and full head covering made from it - a very interesting and fun experience glue welding the garments together. Rubber gloves seemed a natural progression.  
Rubber Gloves - Over the years while renovating our respective houses, it seemed like we lived at hardware stores. During one of these visits I discovered these beautiful cherry red rubber dipped gloves. Of course I bought a pair, but I never intended to use them for cleaning and later when I had over 20 pairs sitting in my collection, I had to wonder if perhaps there was a slight fetish element involved in this love of shiny and sparkly rubber products. These gloves spoke volumes to me, of new secrets and ideas. The forms I imagined stitching from them being the inspiration for the exhibition Rubber gloves, sharp teeth and other pointy bits. Whilst PVC was a familiar old friend, the texture and look of the rubber gloves had opened up a new appreciation and direction for my art.  
Sharp Teeth - I have always had a strong emotional connection with animals. In my early childhood my family moved around a lot and I would often play by myself pretending to be one form of animal or another - horses were always a favourite imaginary play friend, and cats my favourite real ones. And just like a cat, the sharp, scary and often unfriendly elements, their teeth and claws, form an accentuating component within my squishy, cuddly and often cute sculptural pieces.  
Other Pointy Bits - While playing with my sister’s dolls, I was often a hairdresser, but on most occasions, a henchman, and the dolls my victims. My sister was most upset at the new bald hair styles, but mostly furious at the limbless or remodelled creatures I had given back to her. A combination of doll parts and other hard bits, along with the soft skinlike texture of rubber, are worked into each piece of sculpture. This is a reflection of my childhood experiences, while providing a sense of a somewhat warped balance of harmony in form.  
From the smooth, soft, fleshy form representative of a gentle friendly nature, through to the claws and sharp edges which speak of a harsher animalistic character, my sculptures are laced with both soft and harsh elements and I invite the gallery visitor to explore their folds and sharp forms. Rubber gloves, sharp teeth and other pointy bits is an exhibition that dredges the murky depths of my imagination; directly influenced by the materials used, as well as a sense of order and composition. The sculptures are my interpretation of animalistic forms crafted with a variety of fanged mouth parts, spiky armour and rubber teats - all the fun things your mummy warned you about!”  
Erica Gray, December 2012
Media links: 
Pointy bits on exhibition at the Tweed River Art Gallery 
Erica Gray's Exhibition 
And a mention in this piece on TRAG Director Susi Muddiman from The

INTERVIEW with Joe Pitcher &

Mr x stitch: The cutting (& Stitching edge)

Conversations with the makers with Glenys Mann from FIBRE ARTS AUSTRALIA

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