'BIRD IN A GILDED CAGE'
Mixed media corset, life size, made from 'gilded' chicken wire, plastic, ribbon, feathers, beads and paint.
In my series of bodices and corsets, I want to explore this controversial article of clothing, which has been around for centuries, sometimes hiding and often enhancing the breasts, depending on the fashion and the mores of the day. Once seen as an instrument of torture, imprisoning the female form, a corset can also offer freedom from holding your tummy in, and cinch the waist like no gym routine could ever do! Originally underwear, today the corset is now very much outerwear, with fashion designers reintroducing it every couple of years, creating contradictory emotions in women. Love it or hate it, this contentious garment gives wonderful scope for creativity and ambiguity in both the world of fashion, and also art.
Each corset and bodice in the series expresses a different idea.
My 'Bird in a Gilded Cage' sculpture is a play on the words of the popular song from 1900, 'She's only a bird in a gilded cage' composed by Arthur J. Lamb (lyrics) and Harry von Tilzer (music), which reportedly sold more than two million copies in sheet music! I wanted to illustrate the song, as the lady in question would most certainly have worn a corset. In the gilded corset her trapped heart has wings, but she cannot fly away, only look at her image in the mirror like an exotic bird in a cage. Also, in England, 'bird' is a slang word for a young woman or girlfriend, giving further wordplay, as this corset can be worn and is a size 12.
Here are the words to the chorus of the song, the last line of which is the title of the corset.
A beautiful sight to see,
You may think she's happy and free from care,
She's not, though she seems to be,
'Tis sad when you think of her wasted life,
For youth cannot mate with age,
And her beauty was sold,
For an old man's gold,
She's a bird in a gilded cage.
Rosemary Cassidy Buswell, January 2012.