Our socially engaged, interactive and immersive exhibition, Social Scaffolding, was part of Somerset Art Weeks, 24th Sept. - 9th Oct. 2022. We were based in an empty shop in Taunton's town centre, inviting visitors to join us in a number of participatory experiences. Living sculptures was just one of the interactive activities on offer.
Expanding my research into clothing and identity, visitors were invited to try on a selection of hand knitted, wearable sculptures and to transform themselves into Living sculptures. It was absolutely fabulous to be able to work with the public again and to witness the delight with which all ages explored my sculptures in so many joyful ways. Passive viewers became active participants.
This was the invitation to participate:
Become a living sculpture!
Try on one of the soft sculptures.
Look in the mirror.
Take a selfie or two.
Let someone take a photo
or video, if you like.
How does it make you feel?
What does it make you think?
Try on some more soft sculptures.
Write your thoughts on a label.
Tie the label to one of
the metal bodies.
Post photos on social media.
Thank you for being part of #LivingSculptures
As well as a series of brightly coloured, garment-like sculptures that I made expressly for participation in 2018, there were also five Body cocoons which I made as part of my MA research during the Covid 19 lockdowns. Four of them became Parts of me 2020 and were exhibited at my Interim MA Degree Show at Bath Spa University, draped over steel bodies with cast feet. I subsequently knitted a fifth, Body cocoon 5. My Body cocoons became props for a series of private performances of me wearing them in isolated settings as the lockdowns eased. For more details of these performances see:
I was delighted to finally be able to invite others to experience the freedom of wearing my Body cocoons, but I was also surprised that I felt rather protective of them at times. Body cocoon 1, especially had been knitted at the start of the pandemic, exclusively at home and had, at that time represented my Self as part of Self and Other. It holds within it the memories of very private and intense thoughts. I am planning to make a different series of wearable sculptures, made specifically to be worn by others, as we tour.
The Living sculptures experience had lots of lovely feedback from participants:
‘I felt snug as a bug.’
‘Fun.’ (5-year-old girl)
‘The emotions are really clear.’ (12-year-old)
‘The silver lining is always there if you look for it.’
‘You’d be shot if you wore that in the street.’ (Elderly gentleman at the door)
‘We’re trying to make sense of them.’
‘Feels like a safety net to wear, looks like a jellyfish on. Awesome!’
‘Wearing it feels like being comfortably devoured. Very cool.’
‘I feel hugged by this sculpture.’
‘Fun, different. Good to be interactive!’ (Grandfather with 2 small grandchildren)
‘It’s weird. I love all the colours. It’s great being able to touch. Art is often behind glass or behind a barrier.’
‘This has been lovely. Thank you. It stretches the imagination.’
‘Free as a bird.’
‘What a great idea!’
‘Today we met the best people. Lou Baker shared her knitted sculptures. Each child chose what to wear, how to wear it and how to move. I was amazed to see how the children brought these beautiful textiles to life, moving confidently in different ways and interacting together.’ (Home ed mother with 4 children)
‘Are they for sale?’
‘I thought I’d wander in and out again, but this has been wonderful, for him and for me.’ (Mother with young son)
‘Your Living Sculptures look really brilliant and lots of fun! My son looks great with his glasses on over the top! Hope lots of people come and enjoy your exhibition.’
‘Lou’s knitted sculptures take on a life of their own. They can be worn, but trigger different thoughts when displayed in different ways… go, stitch, chat and be a part of what textiles do best – bring us together.’
‘Talking and making connections is like a muscle.’
‘(Living sculptures) opened my eyes to performance art. The knitted sculptures by Lou Baker were all very different, they made me consider identity. The static nature of the sculptures were challenged in their performance, as they began to form their own personalities. Links could also be made to sea life or bacteria as they moved freely, speeding up and bumping together, or wiggling across the floor. A thought provoking installation.’
And some specific feedback about wearing the different sculptures:
Black holey Living sculpture:
‘Never ending holes.’
‘I’m a vampire in a wedding dress!’ 10year old
Turquoise Living sculpture:
‘I feel like a wave.’ (8-year-old)
Orange Living sculpture:
‘I feel like an ancient Briton. (Just need some woad.)’
Blue Living sculpture:
‘I’m an octopus’
‘It reminds me of the game Octodad.’
Cerise Living sculpture:
‘I’m a Beyblade!’ Twirling 9-year-old girl
‘Can you make me something like this?’
Bright green Living sculpture:
‘It’s like a big bogey.’ 7-year-old
Pink hairy Body cocoon 1:
On a body sculpture on the floor ‘That looks comfy.’
Black Body cocoon 2:
‘I feel encapsulated.’
Red Body cocoon 3:
‘Very Game of Thrones.’
Yellow and orange Body cocoon 5:
‘Fire! Get in the fire!’
Blue Body cocoon 5:
‘You look like Neptune.’
‘It made me think of an octopus. The colour blue is like the sea.’