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Quite Ordinary

Michelle Maddox

Objects can signify - evoking memories, soothing, annoying - or be disregarded, and within my work are mostly quite ordinary – usually trusted favourites and other found things. My cat Lucy’s fur, which runs through this entire series of works, is both ordinary and signifies, pervasive in my everyday life as both an irritant and a comfort, a challenge to represent in paint. However, although some objects in my paintings can have such personal meaning, they are ultimately chosen for their aesthetic qualities.  


Inspired by texts by Georges Perec, the French essayist (particularly An attempt at exhausting a place in Paris), and the teachings of the painter Charles Hawthorn, my interest in the ordinary object has influenced my conceptual and practical art process. Perec’s interest in the everyday, expressed in direct language, is reflected in my attempt to communicate the humble beauty in a still-life set-up composed of the ordinary. I choose the term “set-up” rather than “object” as it is the combination of the objects which make the image, the balance and harmony of composition, the colour and light.

Click on the painting for further insight


The collection of fur happened quite by accident. Around my house are vases and other vessels of all varieties, and whenever brushing Lucy, instead of putting the fur in the bin, I unconsciously stuffed it in the nearest vessel. Over the months I noticed these protruding lumps of fluff, often reflecting the colours of their containers and creating interesting aesthetic effects, tumbling out of vases, silhouetted against glass vessels in sunlight, and/or mixing shapes and shades of white and grey.  It is on the noticing of such disregarded objects in chance settings that they become potentially beautiful and take on a life of their own. And so the fur series began. Lucy’s fur has conflicting meanings which is reflected in the almost title of the series ‘Lucyfur’. As a member of our family she brings great pleasure, but also spreads herself to affect the aesthetic appearance of most of the house and its contents.

"It is so much greater to make much out of little than to make little out of much." Charles Hawthorn, 

The daily papers talk of everything except the daily” George Perec

"By separating the subject from its ‘thingness’ I can lose myself in it's potential qualities as an aesthetic object and bring out the otherness of the ordinary". Michelle Maddox

"To question the habitual. But that’s just it, we’re habituated to it. We don’t question it, it doesn’t question us, it doesn’t seem to pose a problem, we live it without thinking, as if it weren’t the bearer of any information. This is no longer conditioning, it’s anesthesia." George Perec

studio shot
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