K.T. Doyle

When the roses fit, wear them

K.T. Doyle's installation When the Roses Fit, Wear Them proffers a poetic annunciation of divine feminine growth and fulfilment in architectural, aesthetic and material terms. Inscribed within a blanket of hand made satin roses, which elegantly peak into the form of a white satin corset, we are reminded of the labour of its author who has lovingly nurtured this piece into existence. Paralleling the metaphorical references made to the blossoming of feminine maturity is our awareness of the labour inscribed within the work itself – a process one can only describe as a labour of true love.

In Western culture flowers are understood as symbols of love and are thus exchanged as gifts. In this piece, K.T. Doyle 'presents' her audience with what has been called the ultimate gift...a piece of art.1

The evocative nature of this work is not only associated with its luxurious tactility and aroma but also with the sense that its meaning exists in the space between the artist/mother/creator and the beholder/surrogate/carer. It is almost as if the roses now depend exclusively on their audience for sustenance following their precarious pseudotransplant to the grounds of the gallery. It is also not without significance that in the botanical world a live rose-bed requires an almost obsessive amount of tending, including a delicate and laborious balance of watering, pruning and cutting. As the newly instated caretakers of this piece we are of course free of such demands, but are instead obliged to revel and participate in its sensuous and demanding beauty.

Linguistically we are also seduced by the word 'yearn', which appears on the bust of the satin corset. Echoing this inscription on the adjacent wall is the word 'yield' which announces with cursive flamboyance a dialogue or a possible reciprocity.

For the artist this relationship speaks of the desire to give oneself to the uncertain realms of love which, in spite of the loving investment made, may never yield or fulfil one's expectations. As well as highlighting and challenging our role as spectators, When the Roses Fit, Wear Them refers metaphorically to the maternal desires and instincts of an evolving femininity. The manner in which each rose is rendered in its fullest bloom, seems to announce a moment of ultimate feminine strength and beauty. The title of the piece also otters an empowering word of advice which is visually embellished by the corset and plunging gown of roses to which it is attached. As an audience we are invited into the work, and in an ultimate embrace we have the corporeal capacity to enter it. But this invitation to slip into the garment is surpassed by an overwhelming sensory urge to merely caress its lustrous surface and inhale its sweet perfume (which I later found was not a figment of my seduced imagination). Ultimately this is a piece too delicate to penetrate and too fragile to wear.

The absence of a female goddess within the corset does however evoke a subtle loss and elusive quality. Is it that the figurative void and silenced contours play homage to the departed mother/creator or indeed 'author'? Despite its enduring material presence and artificial state of immortality, K.T. Doyle's installation delivers an illusion of fragility and vulnerability. But perhaps this is just our innate understanding not to touch, pick or step on the flowers, or for that matter, the art.


I. Hyde, Lewis, The Gift of Imagination: and the Erotic Life of Property, Vintage Books, New Yorl<, 1983, p. 273