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Michaela Younge

Work / Art

Artist Michaela Younge’s NSFW felt tableaux

“I started making my felt pieces about a year ago, and they came about from an idea I had been toying with while I was looking at flat colours of felt, and wanted to create ‘tapestry-type’ work,” Cape Town-based artist Michaela Younge explains. After graduating from Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2015, where she tells us she was working mainly with sculptural and print-based work, Michaela began experimenting with tapestry, using felt to tell elaborate stories via tableaux. “Working with wool fibre has allowed me to experiment with ideas that I have wanted to create but that I didn’t feel I had a medium through which to accurately portray them,” she notes.

The result? Murkily humorous scenes with a heavy dose of nudity, among them a frog being driven down by his own Volvo and a bird attacking another bird perched atop a limbless torso bobbling down a river. “Within my pieces, the characters that inhabit them sometimes have an element of absurdity, and perhaps this is because I have vivid dreams that often play a part in my work,” Michaela says. “I think that the figures that attract me the most are the ones that are ambiguous, for example, when one isn’t quite sure whether there is a horse, or a person in horse costume, as these figures often come up in urban legend, myth and children’s stories. I suppose that all of those are part of narratives, and that interests me. The anthropomorphic characters also relate to our underlying psychology, where we often enact societal norms, bypassing instinctual desire and childlike play.”

Of the omnipresent hobby horse which trundles its way through Michaela’s scenes, the artist notes that “in folklore, the hobby horse, was a man in costume, but it became bigger than that, because of the ideas attached to wearing the costume. The hobby horse was therefore a horse and a man simultaneously. I think that narrative is very important as it permeates our interactions, through the telling of anecdotes and jokes, to social media etc.”

Recently, Michaela tells us that she took part in two group shows with Smith Studio, Cape Town. Most recently, for Out of Nowhere, Michaela showed two interior scenes, one a bar, the other, an office. “They sort of started off as a story, where the mother was having an affair with her new secretary, while the father drank at a dive bar called Thelma’s,” Michaela explains. “Although it sort of spiralled out into the office having a meat massacre that coincided with the arrival of the sexy young intern, meanwhile a horse danced onstage at Thelma’s.”

Michaela says that she’s aiming to exhibit a solo body of work soon, “which would follow on with themes that I’ve been working with at the moment, and I’m looking forward to getting into some new works.”

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Michaela Younge

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Michaela Younge

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Michaela Younge