In the lead up to Easter, we speak to artist, sculptor and clothes-maker Paloma Proudfoot, who knows a thing or two about cracking eggs.
Ceramic eggs, emu farms and perfectly separated yolks are all in a days work for this artist.
Eggs have inspired much of this London-based Paloma Proudfoot’s work, which has been exhibited in Edinburgh, at the Embassy Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy, and in London at Auto Italia and the Fleming Collection.
Most recently, Proudfoot was at Soho’s Playroom with her performance of The Jockey, made in collaboration with choreographer Aniela Piasecka. There were eggs aplenty.
But what is it about the grocery staple that inspires her work?
‘Eggs are everyday and ubiquitous, something that most people have in their fridge, but also incredibly sensual, sexy things,’ Proudfoot explains.
‘There is something perverse, too, in that they are a piece of design perfection yet created in such a way that their potential can only be unlocked through breaking them; just temporary hubs for the foetal bird or breakfast fry-up.’
It’s the idea of an immaculate thing made to be broken that Proudfoot explores in both her sculpture and performance work. She often starts with an ideal that is interfered with or slowly degenerates.
In her performance of The Jockey, Proudfoot uses whisked egg whites to give Piasecka a hot shave, while in her egg sculptures, fresh egg yolks are placed in the dents of the ceramics’ surface, which are then burst or poked with flowers.
Before we chat to Proudfoot more, here are some stunning images of her ceramic series, Oology (the word means a branch of ornithology studying bird eggs, nests and breeding behaviour).
Egg yolks are perfect for propping up hyacinths.
Double yolk gives added shine…
We can’t help but note that Easter isn’t far off.
Proudfoot has come across a large variety of eggs in her time, but which is her favourite?
‘It’s difficult, but I think I would have to say the emu egg,’ she says, ‘they are the most beautiful emerald green colour and sort of look like cartoon avocados or what you’d imagine a dinosaur egg to look like.’
Proudfoot went to an emu farm in Leicester to source the egg that she would cast some of her ceramic eggs from. The farm is run by the self-proclaimed ‘Emu Lady’, Margaret Dover, who has dedicated her whole life to caring for emus and even has a ‘EMU NO1’ personalised number plate for her car.
‘I bought a couple extra to cook at the opening of an exhibition I was in, which was really exciting. There were gasps (and even screams) from everyone watching when the yolk dropped into the pan; the size of it was obscene.’
Proudfoot is truly dedicated to her cause: ‘I am visiting the national birds egg collection at the Natural History Museum in Tring in a couple of weeks so I’m sure I’ll have a new favourite egg after that experience.’
Will there be an eggs inspired clothing line for Proudfoot?
‘It’s probably only a matter of time’, she says. ‘I have honestly been trying to move away from eggs but they keep drawing me back!’
Watch Proudfoot crack and fry a humungous emu egg below.
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