Kate Just, ‘How I Will Change’, 2018, neon sign, 20 x 135 cm
Photograph: Simon Strong
Armoured brings together significant works from Kate Just’s oeuvre dating between 2012 and 2020. Across these works, Just explores and reimagines the notion of armour as a form of self protection of the body and skin. Comprising works in diverse media including neons, knitted works, sewn clothing portraits, found object sculptures and ceramic works, Armoured articulates Just’s ongoing concern with feminist self representation, skin as a subjective texture, and craft as a personal and political tool.
Armoured will showcase such works as The Arms of Mother (knitted and photograph), which were produced during a 2012 Australia Council Residency in Barcelona, and later exhibited in Louise Bourgeois and Australian Artists in 2013 at Heide Museum of Modern Art. The works weave an account of the ways Just and her recently adopted non-biological child imprint and bond with each other at skin level. The Arms of Mother comprises a shimmery pair of skin-toned knitted gloves with harnesses, bearing surgical stitching and the scar embroidered cursive scripts ‘Hope’ and ‘Mother’. Also titled The Arms of Mother is photographic work featuring a close-up of the artist’s crossed arms wearing the gloves.
Alongside The Arms of Mother, The Shield will also be part of the show. This work is a cuirass of stingray skin with shoulder harnesses, which matched the torso size of Just’s child Harper eight years ago. Conjuring the oceanic creature’s whip-smart retaliation instincts, this soft sheath is also offered as fortification against emotional injury. The delicately beautiful relic of a once living creature is pinned to the wall, confirming sacrifice, in the artist’s life and her child’s, as a necessary element of protection (of self or other).
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