Mayer is known for her uncanny sculptures where she employs painted vinyl or painted cast wax to present figures with unparalleled veracity. In this exhibition Mayer uses Angela Carter’s ‘A Curious Room’ as her starting point. Carter described her Curious Room as a metaphorical space where all the secrets of a person’s life are stored, and asserted that life is a process of trying to find it in order to rediscover or remember them.
Mayer’s Curious Room is a collection of sculptures that reveal the subconscious impact of half-forgotten personal rites of passage. As the artist states:
‘I am a deeply private person and am often surprised and horrified to discover that my work discloses aspects of my personality and past that I would probably prefer to stay hidden.’
This unconscious revelation of drives, feelings and memories is allied with conscious intent. Themes such as familial relationships, motherhood, rebirth and metamorphosis are recurrent in Mayer’s work, from babies emerging from womb-like vases to autobiographical references to books read, feelings felt and places visited. The five-piece series ‘Smotyn Du’ illustrates this coalescence of conscious and unconscious dynamics, where personal and universal vie and oscillate. Each piece consists of a fabric covered coat hanger formed from a child’s head with hands protruding from either side, with black knots on the palms, and hung from a crucifix shaped hook. Mayer is at once referencing religious rites; guilt; domestic abuse; and the Smotyn Du (or Black Spot) region of her native Wales.