“Regretfully, Hopes and Dreams Cannot be Exchanged or Refunded” was an exhibition that rewards the observant viewer as none of the objects on display are quite what they would at first seem. Carefully and lovingly created, a series of post-feminist sculptural objects that tell of the disappointment of a generation of women who dreamt of “having it all” only to realise too late that dream’s impossibility.
A pair of padded headboards are the focus of the gallery space, crafted from sewing patterns for girls’ dresses from the 1950s, 60s and 70s and titled respectively “Daddy’s Girl” and Daddy’s Little Princess”, the two objects are attractive and appealing, the illustrations show a series of perfect little girls all turned out in the beautiful outfits promised by the paper patterns enclosed, a dream that demands hours of exacting labour from the mothers of girls who undoubtedly fail to live up to the expectations of the illustrations as surely as the dresses themselves will undoubtedly fail.
Upon closer inspection the viewer can see that the artist has subtly subverted the original illustrations by adding objects or altering poses; these girls are hurtful, they pinch and poke, they lead others astray, one has been tied to a chair, another carries a rifle too large for her small frame, she carries it with unnerving ease and familiarity. These girls have transgressed their socially accepted gender roles and the implication of these two artworks (and the others that make up the show) is that the myths of womanhood, of motherhood, of femininity and maybe of feminism also have all been dreams that by their very nature are bound to disappoint.