Purple Ceiling was the culmination of a two week residency at The Lombard Method by Ella Lucas. Laying bare her efforts to raise raw material into an elevated staging, Lucas presented a series of raw timber ‘figures’ hopelessly dressed with cloth rags. The figures stood precariously under dramatic theatre lights, gazing at film footage of the 1960 Italian singer Mina Mazzini. Mina’s emotional vocals filled the gallery, resonating with the tragic story of her fall from grace, banned from Italian TV and radio for her immoral relationship with married actor Corrado Pani.
Lucas’ fascination with the tragic elements of staging and performing continued through to a sculptural piece which draws on the Trent Harris’s ‘The Beaver Trilogy’. The first film of the trilogy, ‘The Beaver Kid’ documents the real life events of ‘Groovin’ Garry’, a young performer growing up in the rural town of Beaver, Utah. Garry commits social suicide as he enters a talent contest, performing in full drag as Olivia Newton-John. The film is followed by ‘The Beaver Kid 2’, which stars Sean Penn as ‘Groovin’ Larry’ re-enacting the tragedy of Garry’s performance. The last instalment ‘The Orkly Kid’ stars Crispin Glover re-enacting Penn’s performance. A continual cycle is formed throughout Lucas’s work, replaying and restaging embarrassing and painful performances, feeding back into the process of staging sculptural works, which are often later discarded or relegated to the context of the studio.