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Paintings by Barbara Whittle and Emily Arnold
Curated by Emily Arnold 


Curator statement

Blow is a collaborative exhibition of paintings between two long term artist friends Emily Arnold and Barbara Whittle. Emily Arnold is the curator of Blow and her main intention was to complement Whittle’s strong hairdryer series by contributing paintings relating to Whittle’s main artistic themes.

Whittle uses the hairdryer in her paintings to explore how everyday objects become personalised to a point where they become extensions of ourselves and in her paintings they take on a life of their own.

Whittle’s hairdryers compete with vibrant colour, their cords twist displaying lively tension, and their abstracted composition all obliterate the feelings that these are inanimate objects. Whittle’s hairdryers instead exude a sense of life and sexuality. She has chosen an object associated with women, but phallic in form, again referencing the notion of everyday objects becoming a part of us and personalised.

Emily Arnold focused on the image of a hand gun spiralling through the water of a swimming pool. Arnold chose to use a gun in her paintings primarily because it was formally similar to the hair dryer in the way that it is a hand held, black object with a similar shape. Arnold's intentions were not to use the image of a gun to imply power of violence, and in order to defuse these connotations she used the image of a powerless gun, one defected by water. Arnold sourced the images from the Nirvana music video Come As You Are, which also implies the gun to be of phallic and personalised in nature. Followed by the moving image of a floating gun in this music video are images of sperm fertilising an egg and then a baby swimming underwater.

Blow is dedicated to the loving memory of Justin Appleby, who was an important part of Emily’s life, special and dear to both Emily and Barbara. Justin supported Emily through Art School and always encouraged her in her painting, he was also a fan of Barbara’s work.  It is with great pleasure and privilege that Emily and Barbara honour Justin’s life by dedicating this exhibition to him. Fittingly, Justin was a big Nirvana fan, so there is a nice connection between him and Emily’s work in Blow. May he rest in love and peace.


Image: Blow, 2009 - Barbara Whittle
Photograph: Courtesy of the artist