Julie Fragar’s The Single Bed 2017 has been awarded the People’s Choice award for the National Self-Portrait Prize 2017.
Forty is a good time to return to self-portraiture, if ever you were going to.
I was married at 24 and twice a mother by 26. The unbroken family provides a stable mental architecture within which to live with some confidence. The sure reciprocity of relationships in that space seemed, in my case, to be like four posts of a bed.
This year, I am 40 and not married. Being in the metaphoric, and sometimes actual, single bed is an echo chamber of demons past.
‘The Single Bed’ is a painting about being 40 and about reconciling with the facts of how things are (as opposed to the way we thought things might be). The single bed is a complex symbol for an adult – part infantilising, part sarcophagus.
My use of multiple images constitutes a kind of psychological realism. I paint an account of human ontology in which the mess of conflicting time, knowledge, hang-ups, and desires are brought together in the material, singular (flat) bed of a painting. – Julie Fragar
PS The symbolism of the single bed has never been more potent than in Philip Guston’s ‘Sleeping’ (1977) to which this work owes considerable debt.