Mucky Paws

WAG 2013.4


Mucky Paws is one of Goodyear’s most important drawings. Its themes run through much of her work, in which the relationship between humans and animals is uncertain. Rachel Goodyear supplied the Walker Art Gallery with the following information about 'Mucky Paws': This drawing contains many themes that run through much of my practice. The girls in my work may appear submissive but are strongly defiant and capable of striking back. Humans and animals have strange relationships where boundaries between play and torment are blurred. Tensions within the drawings suggest power struggles that could tip either way. Characters find elaborate ways to communicate, only to find themselves in strange and often uncomfortable positions. Animals attempt to become more human; humans attempt to become more animal, yet often tinged with melancholy and longing. This drawing, as with all of my work, can be read in many ways. The possibilities are presented with no fixed answers, so the viewer is invited to engage with the work and imagine the narrative surrounding it. Body language and posture are always very carefully considered and deliberate. The actions of the girl and wolf (whether playful or sinister) have landed them in the position where the girl becomes more animal (on all fours) whilst she elevates the wolf - lending it a hand to stand on two legs. The nakedness of the girl may suggest some kind of abandon – a wilful rejection of society and etiquette in favour of something more feral and animalistic. The relationship between the two can be read in different ways – the wolf may be asserting its authority over the girl, it may be pinning her down, the girl may be in danger, or she may have been accepted as a wolf into a pack like Romulus and Remus. The ‘Mucky Paws’ of the title suggests something flirtatious and playfully smutty. Both wolf and girl have mucky paws. Hidden in the dirty marks on the girl’s flesh are scratches, suggesting the mucky paws have been all over her body.