waiting for food
"To be a dog woman is not necessarily to be downtrodden; that has very little to do with it. In these pictures every woman's a dog woman, not downtrodden, but powerful. To be bestial is good. It's physical. Eating, snarling, all activities to do with sensation are positive. To picture a woman as a dog is utterly believable."
The Dog Women series originated from a quick rough sketch of Lila Paula did. The sketch of her crouching down on all fours with her mouth open as if about to swallow something was inspired by a story a Portuguese friend had written for her. In the story there is an old woman who lived alone with her pets. One night the wind came down the chimney and assumed the voice fo a child who told her to eat her pets which one by one she did. The picture that resulted from that sketch (Dog Woman) eventually developed into a series on the relationship of dog and master translated into human terms and for Paula, into those of her own past. It is her treatment and handling of the subject which gives it it's universality and the feeling that perhaps everyone is somebody's dog. Paula drew with pastels on paper, backed by canvas and laminated onto a sheet of aluminium. The method she used allowed her to be spontaneous and the smudging of the pastels took her back to the childlike freedom of finger painting. Paula says "With pastel you don't have the brush between you and the surface. Your hand is making the picture. It's almost like being a sculptor. You are actually making the person. It's very tactile, and lovely because it's very difficult, learning what colours to use together to make shadows and so on; there's a lot of physical strength involved because it's overworked, masses and masses of layers changed all the time. It takes a lot of strength. But it's wonderful to do, to rub your hand over." These works are also in the tradition of Edgar Degas who used pastel, wax, and even finger painted with oils in order to best capture the physicality of his subjects. "I show them without their coquetry, in the state of animals cleaning themselves" said Degas. Paula praised his technique and said about his late work "He wanted to be a feminine animal sometimes. And there it is. It's honourable that he did them that way.' She created the Dog Women in the same spirit. One work that stick out in this series is Kennel. The idea owed some of itself to Vic. He had an unfulfilled desire to create an exhibition of shelters and places of conetemplative retreat. He never had the opportunity to do this so Paula made the Kennel piece and insisted that it be included in her exhibition.