Rachel Bride Ashton
Multi-species interconnectedness, biophilia and feminine intuition come together in an ever-expanding field of film, sound, biomorphic sculpture and painting.
All my work could be considered explicit as it contains, nudity, birth imagery and bodily functions. I however, consider it to be wholesome, humorous and suitable for children.
Earth Compost Toilet
Wood and white earthenware painted and glazed clay. Fully functioning ceramic, separation compost toilet (or urine diverting toilet) which celebrates reanimalisation, bacterial biodiversity and simultaneously challenges our flush-away, sterile, anthropocentric lifestyles. The design and handcrafted beauty of this dry earth toilet makes us fully responsible for our excretions, puts us in close contact with them and allows us to honour them as rich soil contributions instead of greenhouse gas producing waste. There is a short performance to camera installed inside the toilet in which I play the scientific curiosity of an animal-woman obsessed with her good bacteria.
This work contains adult imagery.
The Pussy Theatre
Multi-species interconnectedness, biophilia and feminine intuition come together in an ever-expanding field of film, sound, sculpture and painting. The multi-media installation is woven together with biomorphic tentacles of salvaged waste and borrowed earth materials. The work is produced through a cyclical, organic, multi-disciplinary creative process whereby 2D and 3D installation, performance and film generate characters, scenarios and microcosms. I challenge our cultural de-animalisation and particularly the institution-controlled birth portrayal dominant in our onscreen culture while celebrating the 90% non-human part of us, our microbiome, formed at birth. In my short films, I play a hairy, animal-woman, celebrating good bacteria and its sources, who, though ridiculous, also embodies a deep melancholic longing for female body autonomy and a more sympathetic connection between the human and non-human. I have created a vivid, chaotic, utopian world where the visceral, intuitive beast-woman and her effluvia are raised up, thrust up, into the censored, phobic, Apollonian realm. She is put in a position of worship, like Baubo, the Vulvanic Goddess of Obscenity or an ancient Sheela-Na-Gig. Orgasmic and seeping, she defies our flush-away, sterile, medicated, anthropocentric lifestyles and honours our excretions as rich earth contributions processed by the busy agents of decomposition or Chthonic Ones.
Video stills from my short film ‘Orgasmic Birth’ which is installed inside a large paper mâché sculpture of a squatting headless female form suspended from the ceiling above human head height. She is the intuitive, deviant beast-woman but here she is uncensored, and her body is a portal to a visceral world which we must strain our necks to see. It is painful to look in the portal unless we become vulnerable and lie on our backs, only from this subversion of the passive position can we experience the magic inside. The film in the portal, ‘Orgasmic Birth’ viewed through her vulva, celebrates the taboo pleasures, intimacies and power of birth so lacking in our mainstream visual media. With some humour and melancholic undertones, the film explores active birth positions, censored imagery, and blurs the lines between pain and pleasure.
Room Installation – Mixed media.
Compost Toilet Installation – Hand-painted plaster ceramic and textiles.
Pussy & the Beasts
(Warning – contains nudity, urinating and a cat killing and eating a mouse).