Too Menny


Too Menny, installation, 2018
From What Is DRAWing?, Temple Church Triforium, London

Created as part of What Is DRAWing?, an exhibition at London’s Temple Church Triforium to celebrate the anniversary of the Royal College of Art’s DRAW special interest group.
                  In Too Menny, the tension between drawing, object, and text tells the story of a matriarch so overcome with worry about her family that she devotes her time to creating exact replicas of each of them. By the time she has finished the task – by the time the proxies of herself, her partner, their daughter, their son, are dragged into existence in her basement workshop – her living, breathing family has deserted and she is left alone. In the process of making, she enacts the loss she is trying to avoid.

In the mountains of Somewhere, as thick air gloams, Sibyl stirs silently. Sweat prickles, heart wriggles. As she pads softly by room after room, the house swallows her up. Porous, she sops its relentless evidence of delicate states. Each limb of her brood in its right place for now but –
            She wends to the basement, finally certain, certain she has it. A fantastic solution, a brilliant plan: from her hands she will hatch a back up clan. A family army, fresh line of defence, and no more ashes! No more dust! Only clay and wire now, only paint, only glass.
            Totally safe. Totally sound. Absolutely no more of these ghastly unknowns.
Night after night, she returns here; kneading and moulding and painting and wishing. Sculpting a future for husband, for daughters.
        Oh! But while she was working, she couldn’t have known: they’d already left, to go it alone. You see, somewhere upstairs, her absence metastasised. Their only solution? A swift excision.
        Down in the basement, her flesh and blood gone, clay vessels mutate into hideous spawn. Yes, where once there were armatures, Sybil now found but a room full of ligatures, by which she was bound.


© Rebecca Elves 2023