Paradoxical Peg (Nod to Feminism)

Becky Bliss

7 May - 3 June 2018

Concrete, polystyrene, wood, gold foil

The humble clothes peg has been a part of washing routines since the 1760s. While seemingly harmless, Becky Bliss considers the peg as a symbol of capitalism’s effect on domestic life.

Mass manufacture of fabric and increased advertising in the late 19th and early 20th centuries have changed our value systems, so that most people no longer have only what they need, but cupboards full of clothing, linen and towels reflecting their tastes, or ideas of status. This means that despite the invention of countless time saving appliances such as the automatic washing machine, there has been little change in the overall time it takes to clean the large amount of items we have accumulated.

While household chores are shared more in the 21st century, women are still the primary carers for children, and because of this, still carry out the majority of cleaning. Today, terms such as ‘good housewife’ or ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ might seem to belong to another era, but a tidy home is still considered a badge of pride among many. For the artist, her hand-made pegs (The Dowse, 2017) symbolised that despite technological advances, many ideas and practices remain the same.

Bliss’s large concrete peg is bizarre in its uselessness: drawing attention to our increasingly complicated lives and the ironic situation where we try to save time in one place only to spend it in another.