Sarah Lucas, Mumum, 2012
I’ve always rather loved those 1960s’ bubble chairs. They manage to look simultaneously comfy, oddly cool and kind of scary. Okay, maybe I’m just easily alarmed, but I have a suspicion that if I ever managed to get into such a chair I’d only get back out by some sort of falling. Getting in or out would at very least result in a degree of ungainliness, I’m sure of that. The comfy part is all about the way the chair envelops its occupant, of course.
So what could make such a chair both more comfy – maybe, I’m not completely convinced on that one – and more scary? Why coating it, inside and out, with what appear to be breasts made out of old tights, of course.
Like all Sarah Lucas’s work with stretchy nylon, there’s something quite extraordinary about the way the material remains both unmistakably itself and truly bodily. And here, with what appear to be hundreds of breasts nestled together the effect is startling. The title of the work, Mumum, suggests the mother-figure with just that bit more. The comfort of the mother’s breast for the child is exaggerated here, even as it is undermined by the overwhelming nature of the work. The result is an object that is funny, extreme and also rather lovely in a slightly ad hoc, grungy way. Above all perhaps it appeals to the part of me that remembers hoarding old tights on the grounds that they might come in handy for something. Quite what I’m not now sure, although I have a vague notion they may have been cut up and used as stuffing for cushions. Which brings us back to the chair.