Each of Shaw’s figures is posed differently – hunched over, curled up on the floor – characteristics which make them appear even more human. “I’m interested in something apathetic, sad, withdrawn or introverted,” Shaw explains. “I want the sculptures to be approachable. When they are withdrawn, people naturally want to console them.”
Interior wooden skeletons form the base for the figures, which are then enhanced using recycled cardboard, expandable foam and papier-mâché. Shaw explains that the synthetic hair, which is attached last, is the most time-consuming element of all. “One of the biggest struggles is figuring out how the hair is meant to wrap around the figure,” she says, “I try and let the figures’ curves and posture dictate the pattern or ‘hairstyle'”.
What is the significance of the use of hair in this series? I began using synthetic hair in my work as a way to infuse figurative sculptures with a sense of the uncanny. I liked the idea of using something that isn’t actually from the human body but speaks to its presence. Albeit superficial, this element adds a life-like quality to the figures. Its use references beauty standards, vanity and the extreme lengths people go to in order to make themselves beautiful, in accordance with societal standards. These works are an exaggeration of that in some aspect.