Grant Lingard

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1961, d.1995

Mummy’s Boy

  • 1993
  • Soap
  • Gift of the estates of Grant Lingard and Peter Lanini, 2001
  • 130 x 83 x 257mm
  • 99/43.1-2

Riffing off the snarling strains of Smells like Teen Spirit – Nirvana’s anthem for outcasts – Grant Lingard’s 1993 exhibition Smells like team spirit provocatively undercut the ritualised male bonding of rugby with references to homosexuality. “How easy it is”, he once wrote, “to be left without a sense of self, to simply assimilate a culture (that is, rugby culture) that does not acknowledge or make room for me, although attracts me for reasons different yet equally strong.” In Mummy’s Boy, a crumpled pair of rugby boots are made not from leather but from Sunlight soap – a symbol of New Zealand domesticity. After his mother’s death, Grant, aged thirteen, took over her household tasks, and references to cleaning and care recur throughout his art.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Art Detectives, 20 October 2006 - 25 March 2007

    Grant Lingard has used a surprising material to make this sculpture of a pair of rugby boots, and has left us with something to puzzle over. Rugby boots could be seen as a symbol of what it means to be a Kiwi male, but the artist has turned this idea around to say something different here.

    Perhaps the title offers a clue. Could the artist be telling us about his own experience, and getting back at schoolmates who bullied him and gave him a hard time for not playing rugby and for not fitting in?