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Pietà 4, Cathie Pilkington

Female sculpture sitting legs outstretched on a table and smaller child figure in arms

Cathie Pilkington, Pieta 4: The Stretcher, 2018, bronze, oil paint, acquired with support from The George Frampton Fund for the Encouragement of the Highest Form of the Art of Sculpture (2018) © The Artist

At a glance

Artist: Cathie Pilkington

Date: 2019

Materials: Bronze, oil paint

Acquisition: Acquired with Support from The George Frampton Fund for the Encouragement of the Highest Form of the Art of Sculpture (2018)


Cathie Pilkington calls herself ‘a sculptural bag lady’. Her work draws on many traditions, materials and modes of display to engage with and subvert the established history of figurative sculpture.

In Pietà 4 from Good Bed Bad Bed, she references the representation of the Virgin Mary and Christ after the Crucifixion, which is a notable theme in the history of Western art. Pilkington confronts this universal theme of grief by creating a work from doll-like forms. This connects it to childhood memories and the legacy of Surrealism that sought to disrupt and fragment images and language to expose an inner subconscious.

Pieta 4 was part of an exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in 2018, entitled ‘Cathie Pilkington RA: Working from Home’. Pilkington worked in the gallery to create an immersive installation across the top floor galleries of the 18th-century townhouse that is part of the gallery. Pilkington brought together her own work with that of Pallant House Gallery’s collection to explore the tension between public and private display, domestic spaces and the production of art.

An art installation of blankets with two dolls perched at the top of two piles.
A sculpture of a woman with tentacle-like limbs cradling a limp boy stands on a plinth in the centre of a room.
A sculpture of a girl with a beehive hairdo sits at a dressing table with her back to the viewer. The dressing table mirror reflects her face back to the viewer.