'Menagerie', Emily Stainer

Photograph of the installation showing a series of birdcages in a darkened room

10 August - 20 October 2007

South African artist Emily Stainer's installation 'Menagerie' wais on display at the Walker Art Gallery as part of the group exhibition 'BOUND'.


BOUND was a group exhibition of contemporary art that explores slavery from historical manifestations to modern-day bondage. The exhibition showed works by international artists representing personal perspectives on the physical and psychological impacts of slavery.

Live art performances and interventions were staged during the exhibition at a number of sites around the city including Liverpool Central Library, Albert Dock and Wood Street. There were installations at the Walker Art Gallery, Tate Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery and FACT. More information is available on the BOUND exhibition website.

Artist's statement - Emily Stainer on 'Menagerie'

'Menagerie' can be read in contrasting and contradictory ways.  The cages are copies of elaborate, ‘gilded’ birdcages belonging to the Victorian drawing room. But in their new configurations they have moved beyond the safe domain of the domestic environment. The caged items - stuffed birds and mechanised body pieces - suggest an atmosphere of brooding menace. The ‘doll’ is trapped in a never-ending cycle of movement, forever impaled and captive.

'Menagerie' was not intended as a critique of the sex trade or of the slave trade. However, the issue of South Africa’s appalling record of sexual violence committed against women and children permeates my work. Various statistics draw attention to the vulnerable and unbalanced status of women and female children in developing countries. 'Menagerie' is full of historical allusions, but its major concern is with the hidden practices of human bondage that still exist today.