This collaborative exhibition was a culmination of the experimental photographic and moving image work of the artist duo Thomas & Maloney.
A slow creeping responds in part to the artists’ joint interest in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’. Written in 1890, this gothic tale recounts the experience of a woman struggling with her mental health after the birth of her child. Under the order of her husband, she is locked away in an attic room as part of a ’rest cure’, avoiding stimulation, excitement, or activities such as writing until she is ‘well’ again. In the confines of the room, its ‘horrid’ yellow wallpaper and its ‘sprawling flamboyant patterns’ start to taunt and torment her. She begins to unravel psychologically, becoming obsessed with the idea of another woman trapped and creeping within the layers of the paper.
‘And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don't like it a bit.”
These ideas of ‘creeping’ and layers, and of a claustrophobic repetition in a suffocating domestic space, will resonate with many in the aftermath of the pandemic. During successive lockdowns, everyone had to adapt how they worked, lived, socialised, and related to each other – it was a time when in one way or another everyone had to face their demons. For the art duo Thomas & Maloney, it became almost impossible to make work, without access to darkrooms and other facilities, with projects and fellowships paused or cancelled. Yet the pandemic forced them to be more introspective, to push boundaries and adapt their working methods together. It led to further dialogue and collaboration that would not have developed were it not for such unusual circumstances.
Since their first show in 2020, Thomas & Maloney have continued to collaborate, to inspire and support each other. This has allowed an evolution of both their individual artistic practices and their collaborative projects in an organic and uninhibited way. This exhibition is both an exorcism and a celebration of their lockdown experiences – it’s a work in progress and a space of their own to explore and share… a slow creeping!
Kirsty Thomas and Rachel Maloney, August 2022