STAY… by Kim Thornton

Kim Thornton, Still Life with Cabbage 1, Archival Pigment Print, 2020, 40 x 60cm

My children are no longer living at home but of course you always worry about them.  Perhaps, or at least in part,
because of my anxiety for them, I felt driven to try and make sense of the lockdown and to interpret the safety
instructions we were receiving.

Stay Apart

The government requirement for us to keep two metres apart was something hard to imagine and even harder to achieve –
what does two metres even look like out in the real world?  I emptied my cupboards and created two metre towers from
tins of food, sponge scourers and loo roll to illustrate the distance expected from us.

Kim Thornton, Don’t stand so close to me (2 metre pantry supplies tower), Archival Pigment Print, 2020, 84.1 x 118.9cm

Stay Alert

Next came a film exploring the nebulous idea of Stay Alert – I mean to an invisible virus – my reaction to this
instruction was to laugh!  What did this even mean?  I expected my film to be a witty curtain-twitching piece but
despite my intentions it became rather more melancholy than I had anticipated, unavoidably picking up on how we all were
feeling I suppose.

Stay At Home

Throughout we have been asked to stay at home.  My neighbour described her day as ‘Wonder Woman’ organising the
children’s school work, cleaning endless extra mess, lunch for the whole family and a full time job too.  In this
photograph a woman dressed in a dishcloth superhero costume is about to climb out of the window.  The ambiguity of her
action, escaping in desperation or trying to save someone, is how I have often felt this year.

Kim Thornton ,The Assumption, Archival Pigment Print, 2020, 84.1 x 118.9cm

Stay Nourished

Each week I receive a vegetable box from a supplier rescuing surplus seasonal products.  Not surprisingly a few cabbages
duly arrived and I discovered that, green and beautiful as they were, you can have too much of a good thing!  It is hard
for two people to eat and enjoy an abundance of cabbage and my resourcefulness was tested to breaking point after
boiling, roasting, stir fry, Japanese pancakes (okonomiyaki), slaws etc.  Eventually it seemed the only way to conquer
the beast was to photograph it.  I anticipated kicking the cabbage into the long grass in an act of rebellion but once
again was surprised to find that a more tender story of support and interdependence emerged (and later a delicious
cabbage, carrot and courgette slaw with toasted cumin seeds to accompany that night’s BBQ – nothing wasted!).

Kim Thornton, Still Life with Cabbage 1, Archival Pigment Print, 2020, 40 x 60cm


My fifth and, for now, final response came from an early August escape to Devon with my grown up daughters.  Still
cautious about eating out and maintaining distance from others it reminded me of holidays with young children where you
had to take everything you might need with you and then spent a lot of the ‘holiday’ doing domestic chores – cooking,
washing, caring.  To mark this time I wore my J-cloth swimsuit to the beach and sat in a deck chair to continue my
J-cloth knitting whilst enjoying the view.  It was a beautiful day and the sky and sea perfectly matched the outfit.
Needless to say this holiday was a more relaxing break than those I remembered, AND meals were cooked for me!

Kim Thornton, Lady in Blue on the Beach, Archival Pigment Print, 2020, 84.1 x 118.9cm

About Kim Thornton

Kim Thornton’s practice combines making and photography with humour to disrupt stereotypes and to create surprise
narratives. Using domestic materials she fashions costumes and transforms objects and uses them to stage unexpected
scenes. The scenes are darkly playful responses to traditional daily life, drawing on memories, anecdotes, observations
and experience to explore everyday tasks. Through the study of domesticity and gender Thornton’s work plays with
behavioural expectations and subverts every day tasks to suggest a secret life of make-believe and fantasy.

Find out more about Kim Thornton’s creative practice via her website or IG