Text for exhibition: APT Introduces Lottie Stoddart
Bryan Fulton, 2022
One horrifying memory from my childhood that will always stay with me, is the moment the ‘troll princess’ first appears on screen in a puppet adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. I could try to list the reasons why she terrified me so—her maniacal grin, the contrast of her cherry-red hair against her putrid green skin—but the most accurate way of describing that fear would be to say it was her Punctum. Roland Barthes, who coined the phrase, defined Punctum as ‘the sensory, intensely subjective effect of an image on the viewer…the accident which pricks me.’ I’m not comparing Lottie Stoddart’s work to an orcish marionette, it’s more that her art is the art of personal captivation (of Punctum), her works are accidents which prick me. The orifices, fur-trimmed limbs, teeth, flesh and vegetation that inhibit her containers leave me with the feeling that my internal life is being interfered with; that I have someone else’s fingers inside my skull. These containers achieve organic properties and a sense of biological animation; they slither, mutate, and chomp. Fragments of flowers begin to resemble body parts, food becomes mulch, items of clothing become soiled and tentacular.
Lottie’s containers act as dioramas, and are used as the starting point for paintings and ceramics. This versioning gives her art a sense of being its own merchandise. Almost as if she bypassed the gallery and made her way straight to the gift shop. I picture a world in which each container eventually has its own official perfume: basenotes of suede, vinegar, iron railings, ozone, bacteria, and salt.
Beyond the Barthes quotes and Ibsen references, Lottie’s work is honest and glorious fun. Her aesthetic recalls the gelatin-laden cookbooks of the 70s, or even Audrey Roberts’ hair salon in Coronation Street. These containers and frames bubble with the life-affirming camp of B movies and creature features. Every Friday, when I was a teenager, my friends would pile round and we’d listen to a pirated copy of the Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers and smoke badly rolled joints. Those weekends were filled with B movies; Jim Wynorski and Lloyd Kaufman were our heroes. The appeal of those movies wasn’t just their violence and the hilarity of the hammy acting, there was a bodily sensuality on display that you lose in ‘higher’ forms of cinema. I found it again here, in Lottie’s work. I found myself wanting to sniff these containers, to chew on their edges; they invite tactility.
These pieces could also be read as ‘memory boxes’, cellars housing objects from an imagined past. Or even toy boxes; awash with the eye-popping vibrancy of childhood memorabilia, every object conveying the infant’s sense of wonder and intrigue. Viewing Lottie’s work, I am reminded of the unfiltered strangeness of the way a child talks about the world around them. We are asked to look at items, landscapes and objects, with which we are familiar, but at different angles, with smaller details revealed in their beauty, oddity and simplicity.