Tired Woman 2008
The masterful sculpture Tired Woman has fatigue as its main theme—all elements of the composition express this concept. The woman is clad in a soft, culturally unspecific robe, and her long, textured hair flows down her back. Her eyes are closed as she lays her head on a pillow that she holds to her chest. She sits on an uncarved piece of stone, indicating that she is taking a rest from carving. She has no time for more than a quick break, although the woman is clearly exhausted.
Oviloo Tunnillie created this work after her first diagnosis of ovarian cancer and the subsequent chemotherapy treatments, around 2006. The cancer was in remission for a time, but she often mentioned feeling tired. She kept working until a second diagnosis in approximately 2012, following which she was no longer able to work.
This carving draws particular attention to the artist’s skill in creating from hard stone the illusion of soft, flowing garments and malleability—for example, of the pillow that she pulls to her chest. The soft elements contrast with the rough, uncarved stone upon which she sits. As expressed by Robert Kardosh: “[This is] a work of profound stillness. Tired Woman seems to speak of hardship generally, and of mundane exhaustion. But it is not incidental to the meaning that this is an image of a woman, too, and of the effect of work on a woman’s body.”
This sculpture is comparable to another 2008 self-portrait, Woman Carving Stone, in which the activity of carving is more specific. The artist’s right arm hangs at her side with an axe in her hand. The reference is to the hard physical labour of using a hand tool. Her upper body and head are bent over a large piece of raw stone. Again, the body language of the figure speaks more expressively than words of the ravages of disease upon the artist’s body.