The Pie Factory Gallery, 5 Broad St, Margate, Friday 27th Aug - Monday 31st Aug, 11:00am - 6:00pm

Mary-Ann Stevens


Instagram: @mary_ann_stevens
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The appealing quirky characters created by Mary-Ann Stevens are odd, peculiar, and unconventional. Created using larger than life papier-mache masks, miniature plasticine models or costume and props these fictional characters have a vulnerability that engages the viewer. 

The work has an edgy, semi-autobiographical narrative, which explores identity and the representation and social expectations of gender. 

Whether presented as a colourful live-performance, a whimsical video, as miniature sculptures, or as still photographs, the work is often characterised by off-beat humour which belies a sense of melancholy.  

Freed from the gaze of the viewer by a mask or a screen, the artist pushes her performance to the limit, playing with exaggerated stereotypes. The work is provocative, and visually striking, with a bitter-sweet edge to it. 

The artist draws on the work of Cindy Sherman and the very adult world of drag queen RuPaul. However the plasticine characters and masks created by Mary-Ann Stevens have none of the perfection of works by Sherman and RuPaul. Instead they are crude, bumpy, sometimes grotesque, yet always expressive. This interplay between the exploration of adult concerns of gender, sexuality, and appearance, together with a childlike playfulness and construction, gives the work a curious, appealing yet uncomfortable effect.