Female Personae

In 2008 I dreamed that I was preparing a talk. I was in a large Gothic mansion, an Institute of some kind. While I was outlining the points I wanted to make in my talk, a friend of mine, who is a curator, came up to me and handed me a book. I skimmed through the book and was reminded of a crucial point I wanted to make. On my yellow pad I wrote: "MAPPING THE TERRITORY OF THE UNKNOWN WOMAN."


At first I imagined that the dream was guiding me to investigate what it means to be a woman in this time and place. However, I concluded that finding meaning was far too big a task, one that ran the risk of breaking my heart. So, I reoriented myself and took on something more straightforward, namely, what is it like to be a woman in this time and place? That question brought me straight to clothes and I worked for many years on a series called “Female Personae” that uses clothing forms to explore that question. I later expanded the concept to include large collage paintings made from beauty advertisements.

Copyright Tanya Wilkinson 2021