“CASTING ROOM” 1986 - 1987

Casting Room One

CASTING ROOM ONE: An Historical Experiment – Actions to Reveal the Distortion Process - 1986

ARTIST'S NOTES The newspaper, open at page three, lay on the only unoccupied seat. She tried to ignore the image, but knew that its presence had already effected her own. Her moment's hesitation had been noticed. Now they were anticipating a response.

Daily throughout September 1986 I bought The Sun newspaper and cast page three into plaster. Each day I also worked from self-portraits by women artists, modelling their faces and setting the empty moulds into the newspaper panels beside the 'topless' models. Through this private ritualised task I hoped to explore and question the restrictions effecting the apparent choice between woman as stereotyped model and woman as creative role model. Quotations expressed the inner experience of women artists whose practice has taken them beyond the limitations of the feminine gender stereotype. 'Casting Room One' was installed in a vacant newspaper shop in Canterbury as part of 'Third Generation: Women Sculptors', and I was present for six days of ritualised live work, casting up positive heads of women artists from the distorted clay pulled from the original moulds. During this public process the implications of the work, the roles of artist and model, the visual evidence of women artists becoming their own active models, the limitations and distortions experienced by women when trying to become culturally visible, and many of the present and future possibilities for change, were discussed with visitors. Through these ritualised tasks I was able to join with the public in questioning the systems and processes of distortion, which perpetuate the image of the stereotyped model while consigning creative role models for women to historical oblivion. Seeing both 'models' from inside out, a sense of the shared anonymity of women emerged and the price of the struggle to become 'visible' became the focus of the enquiry.
Rose Garrard 1986

Concave Mask

ART PRESS The phrase 'actions to reveal the distortion process' recurs in the script which motivates the installation 'Casting Room One: An Historical Experiment', but it could also be applied to Garrard's oeuvre as a whole. She reveals, often poignantly, that the subject can never be fully realised, in memory or in art, that the paper on which the fingerprints are taken is always watermarked, as it were, with history, and that this history, in the case of women and their place in the visual arts obliterates their names and their work both as models and artists, and denies them individual character. By holding up that watermark to the light, Garrard uncovers from forgetfulness, the lives and work of female artists both living and dead.

It is a rite of commemoration, unobtrusive and effective. In the publication of the calendar girl poses and the impersonal inventory of taped information, a restrained irony jolts the voyeur into awareness of the pin-ups' historically muted, colonised condition, and makes their anonymity visible. With the concave moulds of the artists' self-portrait displayed in negative, and distorted positive casts hung above, Garrard reaffirms that all history is a distortion, that the artists "attempted to represent themselves, yet above all, I'm owning up to the fact that in the act of replicating I cannot avoid distorting yet again."
Marina Warner, 'Redressing the Balance', NGBK, Berlin 1987

CASTING ROOM TWO: The Bride Stripped Bare - 1987


ART PRESS  In this piece, Garrard’s fidelity to whiteness as a metaphor for women’s invisibility gains mordancy, for Monroe alive could not have achieved the necessary status of the idol who must be immune to time.  Without death, Monroe, who would be 61 today, could not occupy the sacred site of the eternal, the necessary state of the object of worship.  Within the installation, through the plaster panel “Violent Incident; 1935 - 1962 – 1986” Garrard also acknowledges the cult of the female idol through the alleged rape and mysterious death of Monroe, connecting violence against women and against humanity by reproducing front pages of newspapers where Monroe’s image appears next to headlines of rape and the bombing of Libya. …
Marina Warner, ‘Redressing the Balance’ NGBK, Berlin 1987

POPULAR PRESS  THEATRE COVERS NUDE ‘MARILYN’  Theatre chiefs have been accused of being "prudes" after covering up a nude statue of Marilyn Monroe.  Sculptress Rose Garrard, 53, completed the life-size fibreglass figure 15 years ago, and has shown it in Britain and Europe. The foyer of the Malvern Theatre, Worcs, was to have been its resting place during the exhibition.  Last night a spokesman for the theatre said: "We put covers over it to stop it getting damaged."  But Rose said: "They thought it would offend people."  
Sunday Mirror, 12 December 1999.

Shelf No.6
I can't live where I want to. I can't go where I want to. I can't even say what I want to. I decided I was very stupid not at least to paint as I wanted to.
Georgia O'Keeffe

Shelf No.14
I didn't stand naked in front of three hundred people because I wanted to be fucked, but because my sex and work were harmoniously experienced I could have the audacity or courage to show the body as a source of varying emotive power.
Carolee Schneeman

Shelf No. 18
Yes, it is my work that comes between us, but I cannot put that out of my life because it is too much of myself now. If I had not my love for painting I should be a different person. I am really certain that I could never live with you sexually day after day ... at any rate I am sure I could not work at all if I lived with you every day.
Dora Carrington

Shelf No.20
The spirit of art is always affirming, even when it deals with painful realities, for the act of making an image transforms that pain into something beautiful. This act has been what has sustained me, no matter how hard life has been.
Judy Chicago


Empty Shop Unit 'Third Generation: Women Sculptors' Canterbury Festival

Twelve sculpted portrait heads of women artists, from past and present. Twenty one plaster panels incorporating page three of The Sun, hollow moulds of self-portraits by womwn artists and quoted texts from them, audio tape, three shelves, neon back lighting, and artist as performer in white clothing

Drew Gallery 'Third Generation: Women Sculptors' Canterbury Festival.


'Confrontation' Cornerhouse Manchester
'Redressing the Balance' NGBK Berlin Germany
'Shoemaker's Daughter' Air Gallery London
'Flowlines', Malvern Theatres, Great Malvern, Dec 1999 - Jan 2000

Life size sculpted fibreglass and resin figure of Norma Jeane Baker, framed plaster panel 'Violent Incident', four horizontal monitors in a circle with continuous play video and sound, incorporating 'Casting Room One: An Historical Experiment'

Cornerhouse Manchester for 'Confrontations; The Role of Controversy in Art' organised by Rob La Frenais and Project UK, Newcastle upon Tyne