Portfolio - 2010 - Ganglion

Ganglia provide relay points and intermediary connections between different neurological structures in the body, such as the peripheral and central nervous systems. The term "ganglion" usually refers to the peripheral nervous system and is associated with a variety of functions: motor control, cognition, emotions and learning. In vertebrates, a plexus is an area where nerves branch and rejoin. The electrical signals do not mix – rather, the fibers travel together with their electrical signals separate.

Nicholson is fascinated with the impossibility of communication; with the mystery of language which remains opaque and inadequate no matter how large one’s vocabulary. This recognition of the impossible exists in the work’s references to the body and its internal systems of pure communication, here rendered in that most domestic of accomplishments: knitting. The works’ pink, organic form suggests the interiority of the body and aims to provoke the irrational fear and disgust at the visceral.

Nicholson is interested in notions of women’s memory and identity, and how the social and personal rituals of recording or censoring effect the construction of personal histories. Her works’ primary concern is the historical position of women within society, and the role of memory in securing or weakening that place.

Female epistemology, in the form of gossip, old wives tales, and fairy tales is not a tradition respected in our society. The disruption of information between matrilineal generations is encouraged by this devaluation of experience.

The value placed on women’s work is central to Nicholson’s works, with their focus on the processes of domestic magic and the links forged between the activities of the hands and the rituals of fairy tales that lull the work along.

Fairy tales spend so much time devaluing women’s work and yet insist that if you slave away in silence, like a good girl, then your handsome prince will someday come and rescue you from the drudgery of the kitchen. Yet without the bonds formed and the wisdom passed on, from mother to daughter during this time alone together, how would women’s escape from domestic confinement have been forged?

The work has taken Nicholson nearly a year to complete; first teaching herself how to knit on four needles and then processing the repetitive task. This is one skill that no female relative could impart, though some fun was had guessing and inventing as three generations of women together.