Rachel Adams is interested in the relationship between women and sculpture in mythological tales such as Pygmalion and Medusa. At the centre of both of these myths is a female protagonist who can overcome the static restraints of sculpture: be that either breaking from a rigid marble form to become living breathing woman as with Pygmalion, or indeed the reverse as with Medusa who transforms the living into motionless statues. Fusing furniture design, textiles, the iconography of classical ruins and decorative craft finishes, Adams' objects pay tribute to the classical tradition of figuration: the bust, the reclining nude and the caryatid. These forms are blueprints for the depiction of the female figure within the sculptural canon in use from ancient greece to mid–twentieth century biomorphic abstraction and beyond. Drawing on myths and traditional motifs, Adams plays with the identity of a sculpture and its relationship to both traditional materials and museum structures.
In her work, the plinth is developed well beyond being a mere support and becomes integral to the work being crafted to the same extent as the sculpture – fudging this loaded art–historical hierarchical relationship. Drawing, craft and furniture materials, paper, yarn, tubular aluminium, fabric, ink and starch are used to make associations with traditional sculptural techniques such as modelling and casting. Ink–saturated and hardened paper folds suggest classical marble drapery, striped fabric becomes the columnar fluting and crumbling ruins are conjured up by crumpled paper forms. Her choice of materials, subverting their intended office, domestic, DIY or industrial origins, whether they form a lumpen bust–form sitting atop a wonky, legged plinth or a shiny metal structure bedecked with pompoms lend the work a surrealist sensibility.