God's Bog


Rose Finn-Kelcey
Rose Finn-Kelcey first came to prominence in the early 1970s. Her artistic practice was characterised by unpredictability, with each work changing dramatically from one to the next. Finn-Kelcey often engaged with themes of religion and spirituality, though this remained playful, seeing her produce objects that often appear cartoon-like. God’s Bog is a toilet cast in Jesmonite. Perhaps intended to resemble excrement, it curls delicately like a seashell. With it’s high-shine exterior the work appears quite regal – a distinguished relic. Displayed with the seat open invitingly, it prompts the question: ‘Can waste be recycled to infinity?’
  • Artwork Details: 45.7 x 43.2 x 40.6cm
  • Edition:
  • Material description: Jesmonite, polypropylene, paint
  • Credit line: Rose Finn-Kelcey, God’s Bog, 2001. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © Estate of Rose Finn-Kelcey
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Sculpture
  • Accession number: ACC44/2018

About the Artist

Amy Tobin, Lecturer in History of Art, University of Cambridge and Curator, Kettle’s Yard, explores the work of Rose Finn-Kelcey...

Rose Finn-Kelcey’s work stages material collisions that pose universal problems. In her early work this often concerned the disparities between being a woman and being an artist, in her later work she expanded her questioning to broader, humanist problems like the difference between monetary and aesthetic value, or the sacred and the profane. God’s Bog (2001) very much engages with the latter, this jesmonite sculpture combines an enlarged shell with a toilet. The two have merged together as if mutated. The toilet’s smooth, pristine white is made beautiful by becoming shell-like, and vice versa, the curving form of the shell is disfigured and made abject by the toilet form and its scatological associations. Perhaps the sculpture reminds us of the impact of our civilised society on the natural world, or perhaps the suturing of the two elements, reminds us of our connectedness to the world at the most basic level. 

And what of the title? God’s Bog, like the sculpture itself, brings together high and low references; the sacred and the most profane. Finn-Kelcey is not heretical here, rather, her use of colloquial language brings the Godly to the quotidian, and in doing so invites a different kind of relationship between art and religion, between religion and daily life. Even the way we relate to the work breaks from the traditional idea of an ecstatic or devotional experience of religious art. Finn-Kelcey provokes us to laugh, to identify the joke in her tongue-in-cheek juxtaposition of high and low forms. Unlike historic examples of religious art, Finn-Kelcey’s work explores a new vocabulary for religiosity that is less about doctrine and scripture than a broader idea of spiritual experience. 

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