For the most intimate of our Threadneedle Prize blog posts, we look at Nicole O Riordans pants.
This drawing, which measures 15cm x 73cm, depicts 3 pairs of the artist’s pants, drawn in biro on paper that has been mounted on to an aluminium sheet. The detail is extraordinary; the pants have been scrutinised so that every crease and fold is beautifully rendered. The level of care and craftsmanship shown in the drawing is impressive. The result is a sensitive drawing that not only shows the beauty and delicacy of the very feminine looking undergarments, but also perhaps comments on the beauty and delicacy of feminity itself? There is a confessional quality to the drawing – the unveiling of what is worn but never publicly seen, drawn with the biro that would also normally write the secret diary entry.
Lisa: Tell us why you made ‘My Pants’?
Nicole: My most recent body of work is an exploration of dress and how this can be used as a means of self-portraiture specifically in relation to my experience of aging. Clothes can represent parts of ourselves that we may find hard to reveal. As an older, single woman, I sometimes struggle with talking about sexuality and wanted to explore this through my art. I was keen to avoid actual representation of body parts to achieve this. The pants were one means of articulating this area, an item worn next to my skin where even the creases and the folds took on a biomorphic feel. I discovered that the actual pants were too intimate to even leave in the studio for someone else to see. Making a drawing of them enabled me to be one step removed from a subject that I felt vulnerable discussing. I used my actual pants for the drawings not ones specially bought as I need to have a relationship to the object I am working with.
Lisa: What do you like about biro?
Nicole: I am a recent convert to biro. I was making lots of graphite drawings but was not always satisfied with the depth of tone achieved. I wanted to tackle a black leather shoe and decided to try biro. The result was really satisfying, enabling me to work with great detail and a layered build up to achieve tonal variation. I decided to use it for other dark objects like my pants and was really happy with the results.
Lisa: Please could you tell us a bit about the relationship between your drawings and your paintings?
Nicole: I work with the still life genre and when an object has captured my attention I start to explore my relationship to it by drawing. Drawing helps me to articulate what an object means to me, and what I want to say about it. It’s an integral part of my practice. I have heard drawing described as ‘a line around a think’ and that sums it up perfectly for me. The drawing phase helps me to move into painting, testing my composition and ideas but being independent works in their own right. Some compositions will work better as a drawing than as a painting.
Lisa: What makes a successful drawing?
Nicole: I like the drawing to have captured something of what the object is, not just what it looks like.
Lisa: Where can we see more of your work (online or in the flesh)? Nicole: My website is http://www.nicole-oriordan.com/
Visitors are invited to vote for their favourite paintings – if you think Nicole O’Riordan’s ‘My Pants’ should be awarded the £10,000 Visitor’s Choice Award remember to vote for work #84 when you pay a visit to the Threadneedle.
The Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture is open daily from 10am – 5pm from the 25th September – 12th October 2013. Admission Free. The Threadneedle Prize for Painting & Sculpture 2013, at The Mall Galleries, The Mall (near Trafalgar Square), SW1 All images are copyright of the artist.