Zoe Spowage: Pet

08 Mar 2024 - 30 Mar 2024

'Pet' is an exhibition of new work by painter Zoe Spowage. Made while pregnant with her first child, these ten new paintings manifest the “musings and anxieties” the artist felt during this transformative time in her life. The work was completed in mid-November 2023, with her son born by the end of the month.

Zoe Spowage is based at Assembly House in Leeds. She graduated from Falmouth University in 2013 and is an active member of Precious Art Collective.

She says: “From the start I was using 'Pet' as the title for this body of work: 'Pet' as in a creature you pour your love into; 'Pet' as in the affectionate/patronising touch of an authority (figure?); 'Pet' peeve/theory/name as in 'held dear'. There was something darkly comic about how lightweight the word Pet is in contrast to the seriousness of having a child.

I was considering who my new self would be - postnatally. The female characters in the paintings are all personifications of my musings or anxieties relating to this metamorphosis. Featured, too, is the unruly family pet, the pushed-out dog, displaced by the new child. And a toyed-with frog representing the cruelty and innocence of small children - a duality that no animal could ever understand, or forgive.

Aesthetically, this work is economic in terms of colour, drawing, and surface. It is elegant and filled with open space. Many of these elements feel at odds with my new existence as a mother - which feels chaotic and punk. Babies scoff at elegance.”

Preview: Thursday 7 March, 5 - 8pm (also opening: "False note" by Freya Dooley at Site Gallery, 5-8pm)