This is a photo I took the other day in the Cath Kidstone shop opposite the RA. It is nightwear made from fabric that looks like your Nan’s old sheets. I have many of these old sheets in my fabric stash. They transport me right back to childhood, feeling safe, secure and cosy.
I am planning to use this, amongst other fabrics to create my giant teddy bear. Thinking in semiotic terms the bear represents attachment and is supported by Harry Harlowe cloth monkey experiment. I want him to be as big as I can possibly make him in the hopes that the viewer feels small and transported back to childhood .
I think we all have fond memories of bedtime from our childhoods. We also have scary memories.
Bedtime is often the only time you are alone as a child. Being the youngest I was first to bed and found it very scary indeed. I had a ritual at bedtime where my numerous cuddly toys were placed in specific places in my bed. No one could do this job except me as I was the only one who knew exactly where they all went. I remember a clown I had, I bought him at a jumble sale at the Empire Hall in Horley, a place I later worked in. I have no idea why I bought him because at bedtime I became so terrified of the clown that he had to sleep at the foot of my bed, right under the covers so I couldn’t see him. I still find some clowns disturbing.
The Ballet Class (Degas, Musée d’Orsay)
We had a copy of this painting in our bedroom when I was a child. When the radiator pipes used to bang I was convinced it was the old man with the stick coming to get me!
In Grayson Perry Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, Perry describes bedtime at his Aunty Mary’s.
When Aunty Mary put me to bed, I was in bondage. The sheets were pulled down so tightly over Alan Measles and me that I could barely move, but it was comforting and lovely. ”
He later goes on to describe how it feels to be a man wearing women’s clothing;
As I could’t see myself in the mirror while I was walking through the village, the cliche of the nippy air around my legs along with the physical feeling of wearing uncomfortable shoes constantly reminded me I was wearing cramped, female clothes.”
As I can’t watch myself, wearing crippling shoes, being a tad cold or having unusual physical sensations from my outfit remind me that I’m in the wrong clothes. It accentuates the difference.”
Perry talks about how there is a connection between some fetishes and lack of physical contact with parents in early life. His own parents where cold, the opposite of his Aunty Mary whom he describes as a “currant bun.”
A fetish, in particular the sense of a technical, psychological explanation, is an object that takes the place of normal human relations. Instead of loving the woman, you love her high heeled shoes. It is an ability of the mind to think metaphorically, to shift. If the unconscious can’t get what it wants emotionally in a normal way, it will find an alternative pathway to get it. If you can’t express your feminine side as a man. something decides, ” Well, you’d better dress up as a woman.” If you can’t get a hug from your dad, you wrap yourself up very tightly in the bedclothes instead, though you don’t equate the one with the other. It’s your body’s and subconscious’s cry. It’s a predisposition, sensitivity or an emotional vulnerability in a person and if that person is brought up in a harsh environment soon the fetish world comes along offering a solution. As a child, not for a moment did I think, ” This is because of my parents.” Until I was an adult it never occurred to me to equate my sex life with any lack in my childhood parental experiences. My body and mind only whispered, “Oh, that’s interesting, try that. “
The ideas Perry puts forward as potential reasons for his transvestism could explain why I , and others, form unhealthy attachments to objects and become hoarders in later life.