Cathy Wilkes

We Are Pro Choice

About this artwork

Although Wilkes is resolutely opposed to explanatory texts and has avoided making detailed comments on her work, there are certain themes which are common to her installations. This work occupies an entire room and offers a cryptic, deliberately enigmatic, meditation on a woman’s life, childbearing, the passing of time and the issue of career versus traditional household ‘duties’. Two possible and contrasting lifestyle choices seem to be offered – up a career ladder or sitting on a toilet. The title alludes to the right to abortion, but here it has a more wide-ranging meaning relating to other life choices. The work is intentionally puzzling, comprising familiar, yet unfamiliar, objects. Close examination however, reveals a narrative which is shared by many of us.

  • title:
    We Are Pro Choice
  • accession number:
    GMA 5083
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    3 glass bell ornaments, 1 china bell, 1 broken green glass, 2 china cups, 2 glasses, 1 broken plastic glass, 1 broken clock face, 4 clock hands, staples, 2 latex casts of ladder steps with wooden/ wire/metal hanging device, 40cm metal bar. 1 cloth, dried lavender stems, 250cm ladder, 1 plastic racquet, 1 plastic ornament, wire, oil stained canvas 81 x 61 x 3cm, 17cm dia wooden table, 1 toilet pan, 1 mannequin, 2 empty drinks cans
  • date created:
    2007
  • measurements:
    Dimensions variable
  • credit line:
    Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund 2009

Cathy Wilkes

Cathy Wilkes

Cathy Wilkes is one of the leading artists working in Scotland today. In her installations Wilkes explores deeply personal experiences and issues that are not always comfortable to view or easy to decipher. She is opposed to explanatory texts, which adds to the deliberate enigmatic quality of her work. However, close observation often reveals a particular narrative quality concerning issues to which we are all familiar, such as career choices, motherhood, the commonplace and the aspirational. Born in Belfast in 1966, Wilkes studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1985-8 and went on to teach at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, from 1996-2000. Her work featured in the Scottish Pavilion at the 2005 Venice Biennale and in 2008 she was nominated for the Turner Prize. Selected solo exhibitions have been held at Tate Liverpool (2015), Tramway, Glasgow (2014), Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2013) and The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2012).