Rachel Kneebone is a British artist whose intricate works address and question the human condition. In Autumn 2017 a series of five porcelain sculptures were displayed amongst the Museum’s historic Collection. Raft of the Medusa’s tumbling limbs and fractured swags are at once coquettish and ominous; their gleaming white surfaces and exquisite detail belie scenes of turmoil and collapse.
Using porcelain, a delicate material traditionally associated with fine tableware and Rococo exuberance (as exemplified by the plasterwork in the Museum’s Court Room), Kneebone subverts viewers’ expectations. Visibly exploiting the material properties of porcelain, she deliberately allows her works to distort and crack in the kiln, inviting the viewer to question the relationship between strength and vulnerability.
Shown amongst the Museum Collection, the works distilled and abstracted the Foundling Hospital’s suppressed narratives of sexual desire, emotional damage, and female strength, whilst also referencing ideas of displacement, refuge, and resilience.