Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs

Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs, gouache paintings

I am currently exploring the idea of the uncanny, monstrous-feminine, researching how the female reproductive system has been blamed for such behaviour – the belief that an unruly womb led to an unruly woman, provoking male fear and uncertainty of the female gender.

This piece illustrates existing beliefs and symbolism of the womb, dating back to Ancient Egyptian times. The womb has been thought to cause illness and monstrous behaviour to the female body and psyche, termed ‘hysteria’. Such beliefs have been assumed for centuries, up until the early 1900s when modern science debunked such myths.

Writer Barbara Creed and psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud have claimed that the female reproducive system is related to birth, death, nature, animal, home and darkness. Through my research, I have also connected the female fecund body to the uncanny – our first home, which has become unfamiliar through repression, and the abject, where what should have remained hidden and unseen within the body, is revealed. Both evoke unease, dread and disgust thus creating fear of the female body and her monstrous-behaviour. These are the main themes I have worked with for this illustration.

Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013

Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013

Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013

Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013

Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013Four and Twenty Unruly Wombs | Layla Holzer 2013