Intrigued by gender-related stereotypes, Rosie Deegan juxtaposes familiar objects with materials which challenge their functionality. Her work poses contradiction and evokes thought about the relationship between purpose and function.
‘For a Man of Substance’ is a response to ‘The Cabinet Maker’s Toolbox’ by Benchmark. Within ‘The Cabinet Maker’s Toolbox’ there is a strong correlation between the functionality of the tools and the toolbox’s ability to induce masculinity. Ironically, its decorative qualities mean that many would choose not to use the toolbox in a practical sense. However, the toolbox’s beauty is legitimised for men through its stereotypical masculine associations.
In contrast, many functional items have been decorated in order to comply with our culture’s attitude towards women and practicality. This is because beauty is heavily associated with femininity. Just as there is an expectation on men to be practical to demonstrate their masculinity, there is also an expectation on women to be decorative in order to demonstrate their femininity.
‘For a Man of Substance’ consists of a range of non-functional tools, with the intention of subverting function and gender. Made from various materials associated with femininity, fragility and luxury, the collection brings together the unashamed decorativeness that women can openly enjoy but men cannot. Often men may use functionality as an excuse for their appreciation of beautiful objects, whilst women are stereotyped as being masculine for enjoying practical activities. This piece brings together practicality through the use of once functional found objects, and decorativeness in an open, frank and ironic way.