Single Woman Makes Seven Clay ‘Boyfriends’

Single Woman Makes Seven Clay ‘Boyfriends’


MARY STEPHENSON: You get worried that you look like a bit of a like…you look a bit
bonkers. You’re like, “Oh my god, my clay boyfriends in my studio.” COMM: Artist Mary Stephenson has seven boyfriends. However, none of them have a name and they
are all made out of clay. MARY STEPHENSON: This is the newest one and he is kind of a bit, yeah, he is a bit creepy
this one, I think. He is the one that’s going on the most recent date, the one that’s
just about to be shot. So, yeah, he is the newest one and he is the oldest one. MARY STEPHENSON: There was, I mean, there was one incident that kind of triggered it. I
was at a wedding a couple of years ago and somebody asked how long I’d been single
for and I said ‘Oh, two years or so’ and this person said, ‘Oh, what a waste of time’.
It just made me start thinking kind of what society’s pressures for people to have.
Like, do we have to be in a couple, if we’re single, does that speak a lot things about
us. So, I started playing around with these ideas of these kind of scenarios of kind of
hypothetical goals for the future for relationships and that kind of, what you know, if society
wants me to be in relationship, I’ll put myself in a relationship. COMM: After creating her boyfriends, she stages elaborate dates with them in her London-based studio. MARY STEPHENSON: I was at a party in the summer and I was showing a friend, my friend was
asking about it, and I showed him a picture of him on my phone and he said “Oh my god
he looks exactly like my friend Ben.” And I was like, “Who is Ben?” And he was like,
“Ben!!! “ And this guy came and was like “Hello!” and I was like, he was like,
“Oh look, Mary’s made a sculpture that looks like you” and I was like ‘Oh I just…
I didn’t even, oh it’s a fake boyfriend”, and I was like, “Ha-ha”, and he did not
find it funny, he was very confused and bit freaked out and I was like, “That’s very,
it’s kind of awkward.” MARY STEPHENSON: When I started making them, they kind of come out of nowhere, I kind of
get a lump of clay and you just have to kind of go with it, and the clay kind of really
dictates actually how they end up looking like. Usually, do the nose first and kind
of find like where the face is there. Sometimes you make them and they just look totally bizarre
and that’s just like, they just look like weird creatures. So I just tend to throw those
ones in the bin. COMM: Mary, who graduated from Glasgow School Of Art, says the project has been created
to explore the modern day pressures on young people, like herself, to live a seamless,
perfect and idealised life. MARY STEPHENSON: This guy was, this one I made when I Goggled “handsome men” and
he kind of, I kind of came up with all these, we found all these images of handsome men
and as Goggle had said and came up with him that I would, in my opinion, say is the least
attractive if, you know, if, out of the bunch. MARY STEPHENSON: The scenarios in the portraits are more meant to be about my own projections
of myself in the future and then what I anticipate within relationships, I suppose to what the
men are like. I think a lot of the time when we look into the future and think about what
we want for ourselves and especially with relationships, I think it’s rare the person
is that vivid or that, you know, that defined. I think it’s more about yourself and how
you define yourself within and how strong you feel, how you know. COMM: Mary’s now onto her seventh clay boyfriend. But previous date scenarios have seen in romantic
Paris, picnicking in the park and even introducing them to her friends at a social gathering. MARY STEPHENSON: I think I’ve grown in confidence with being single. Not that I haven’t been,
wasn’t confident with it, but like I felt conflicted. By playing out these roles, I
have kind of realised my confidence in not being in them. I think kind of some of the
most successful portraits are once where I looked quite bored, and I think that kind
of speaks to me quite loudly that I don’t necessarily want to be in that situation right
now, even thought they’re clay boyfriends and it’s in like kind of a bizarre scenario.
I think it’s making me realise that these hypothetical scenarios in my head are hypothetical
and they’re idealised, they are not necessarily relevant to me right now. So playing them
out is kind of like a weird therapy, I guess. MARY STEPHENSON: People have been really really supportive actually and lots of women have
emailed me being like, “It really really resonates with me”, and it kind of confirms
that kind of confusion, I guess, which, you know, to share, to share a confusion with
someone, it actually kind of makes it slightly better.

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