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The Four Stages of Cruelty (A Contemporary Reflection)

Much art and literature in history explored the question of cruelty, from Kant to Coe, Orwell to Banksy.

In the 1800s the satirist William Hogarth created several works that depicted the consequences of cruelty. One of his most famous works is the series of paintings and engravings called "The Four Stages of Cruelty," or “The Reward of Cruelty” which explores the consequences of such actions in a moralising way.


My work is a mixed-media installation that explores the theme of cruelty and its consequences in contemporary society. The work includes ink drawings, sculpture, and interactive elements that encourage visitors to engage with the theme of cruelty, reflect on it–and their own place in it.

The exhibition is framed within a modern context and builds out and on the visual narrative of Hogarth's "Four Stages of Cruelty" series with reflection. Using mixed media, drawings, etches, bone carvings and ink on bone, prints of–and sealed epoxy–‘meat sculptures’, faux fur sculptures, and four mirrors with AR lenses, it is a tactile, interactive yet abstract interpretation of the gradual escalation of cruel behaviour in Hogarth’s work. However, rather than focusing on literal actions and consequences for victim and perpetrator, this series of contemporary works allow viewers to reflect in the window and in each work see their place in this cycle.

This work explores various themes of cruelty in different contexts, and to the ‘other’, whether that be unseen animal cruelty, discrimination, bullying, and even externalised destruction of self. Is it real? Is it satire? Is it powerful? Is it serious? Each of the windows reflects back what viewers interpret it to be.


As with all of my work, I use recycled, unwanted and gifted materials wherever possible.

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