That Which We Can Never Know
That Which We Can Never Know (2019-2020) by Robyn LeRoy-Evans is unveiled for the first time in Maternality. The fabric installation takes its point of departure from both Piero della Franscesca's altarpiece The Nativity c. 1470 in the National Gallery, London and from the artist and curator's critical responses to the work. In della Franscesca's altarpiece, a river of blue velvet pools across the picture surface in the form of Mary's mantle on which the infant Jesus is laid, the draped fabric acting as a form of umbilical cord that simultaneously separates and unites mother and child. In LeRoy-Evans' piece for Maternality, this blue mantle is rendered in a textile installation that imitates the internal folds of the maternal body, the spaces which we have all at some point inhabited but which 'we can never know'. The fabric hangs with corporeal weight, turning in on itself in places to reveal a pink lining - suggesting the possibility of an interior that can be glimpsed but never quite grasped. These corporeal folds express the physical and psychic state of maternity as a container for memory, latency and multiple bodily identities - three pins attaching the work to the wall represent the vestiges of bodies within the one contained space; of the artist, her husband, and her child while a fourth pin represents the possibility of another body as yet to be born from the folds. Soil from the artist's childhood home surrounds the textile work at ground level, introducing the matter of the ground, psychically charged with meanings of place and belonging, using earth from the locations in Buckinghamshire where the artist's deceased mother used to sit. Thus time, space, memory and potential are implicated in a genealogy of matter that recalls the maternal in a number of ways.
- Excerpt from Catherine McCormack's exhibition essay, curator of Maternality, on view at Richard Saltoun Gallery, London, January 10 - February 15, 2020.