The skin performs a multitude of functions, none more important than that of protective membrane. The skin is what safeguards us against infection and impurities. It is our barrier.
The work of American-born, Melbourne-based artist Kate Just frames the skin via a looser, more poetic and deeply personal set of cues. Indeed, her new exhibition The Skin of Hope, which opens Thursday night at Flinders Lane space Daine Singer, portrays our outer layer as an allegory for our deepest struggles and torments, but also our most personal joys and connections.
Taking her five-year-old daughter Hope – whom Just and her partner adopted as a two-year-old after a difficult start to life – as her inspiration and muse, Just’s photo works and mixed-media installations plot the skin as both a map of personal experience and a point of connection between mother and child. Her signature use of textiles manifests itself in the form of knitted, child-sized chainmail armour, various surrogate layers and texts – perhaps a dualistic metaphor for both resilience and fragility. A suite of photographs, meanwhile, traces a child’s drawings on a mother’s skin; a potent reminder of the imprint we leave on those closest to us.
Created during a residency in Barcelona, these works proffer the skin as something beyond mere surface. It is something that invokes who we are, those we love and what we’ve been through.
The Skin of Hope opens at Daine Singer 6pm to 8pm Thursday May 24 and shows until June 30.
Basement, 325 Flinders Lane, Melbourne