Kathy McCarthy

An upper room in the museum had been divided by a plasterboard partition wall. One section had been given a false low ceiling and arranged in a representation of a cramped domestic living space. The fireplace, wallpaper, simple furniture and utilitarian objects created an impression of what the living conditions were like for many of the children attending the ragged school in the 19th century. In the other section, displays of packets, tins, boxes and jars showed present day children the household commodities and foodstuff from those earlier times. These displays and most of the furniture have been removed, though the partition and false ceiling have not yet been dismantled. Kathy MacCarthy has placed ceramic and Jesmonite sculptures around the two spaces; in an emptied cabinet, on top of table, on the floor by a window. Inhabiting the Museum’s fictional kitchen space, the sculptures adopt an anthropomorphic stance. Clay objects sit in small huddles of twos and threes. Though they have become hard through firing, the forms retain a feeling of fleshy softness and of movement and malleability. They fold in on themselves and nuzzle up to each other, their tubular apertures probe the patchy, orange mottled glaze. In one corner, a pair of bulbous, black ceramic vessels each appear to have a long, knobbly pink shape poking out from inside them. By the window, a tall, creamy white and pink mottled shape bends forward from its sturdy base to touch the floor with the points of its two slender ‘limbs’. Light falls across the coloured texture of its surface, echoing the pattern of the room’s old fading wallpaper.