Dream Vagina
10 Aug 20 by justatest
A mattress appeared in the steam at the end of the garden. What a peculiar place to sleep! I thought. Resolving to remove it in late Spring when the water levels decreased, I promptly forgot all about it until some months later I received an invitation to participate in an exhibition in Florence. The theme of the show was to be "The place of dreams and dreaming" and so I ventured out back to check.

view into gallery

I didn´t go to see the show (the cost of shipment was already enough expense) but later by chance found this image on the web. I suspect from the photo that it may be the back entrance to the gallery and that the gallerist would really have preferred to leave my work in the laneway outside (for rubbish collection)!
[photo: Ilaria G., Firenze]

Front view

seen from the front

A final glistening coat of rabbit-skin glue finished it off. All that remained to do then was to build a crate and send it off to Florence.

Rear view

seen from the back

A view of the back of the finished piece. The mattress itself is still clearly evident with the wire holding it all together and upright, in quite a visually dominant manner. I found this an interesting juxtaposition to the view at the front, and so then decided against covering all the surface of the cage in leaves.

Natural addition

adding fallen cordylion leaves

As an attempt to soften the impact of the jagged wire surround, I wove some fallen leaves of a cordylion tree within the wire - not being too sure of what the addition of natural elements like these would be. I´d normally shy away from combining works directly with nature in this way. In the end I thought it worked okay to ease the visually ´aggressive´ wire and to regain a more proper feminine aspect as a border framing device.

In a basket

wire wrapping

As the application of glue alone wasn´t sufficient to allow it stand up, I made up a kind of cage basket from wire I´d taken from a derelict tennis court. That gave it the stability to stand by itself and made it more robust. However I was not too happy about the visible effect of all that wire.

Initial appraisal

assessing the foam and mattress cover as a standalone piece

I brought it inside and applied a first coat of hot rabbit-skin glue in an attempt to have it stiffen up in order that it might stand upright by itself. The combination of glue, dried mud from the stream, and rotten old foam made for quite a noticeable odour. For sure, I mused those slickly-suited Florentines are going to like this one NOT!

The first cut

preparing the first form

Now dried, I used a large knife to cut out a vaguely triangular shape from one end. I then cut deeply into the foam and folded out the two resulting sides. I was thinking of a vagina or vulva-like form which, to my mind, is usually a pretty good subject to dream about.
Of course you'll agree that my focus on female anatomy was exclusively in consideration and respect for the theme of the exhibition.

Out to dry

airing the mattress

A good couple of hours of much slimy and slippery tugging and heaving followed. It was like wrestling with a monsterously fat slug weighing a tonne filled with mud and water. Once out and propped up on lengths of wood, it remained like that for some weeks to drain out and dry.


before extracting the mattress from the stream

The abandoned mattress was indeed still there in the stream at the end of the garden. The water level had dropped sufficiently that I could consider taking it out to have a closer look.