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Cecily McNamara

MA work

Freeing Andromeda: The Anima, The Oyster and The Pearl

My grandfather, who collected pebbles from the beach, to polish until they shone, to mount on rings or pendants, as presents for his daughters, also gave each of them gifts in battered leather cases. Cracking open on hinges, their silk linings torn, so they resembled the poor, damaged oyster, each contained a string of pearls…

Freeing Andromeda: The Anima, The Oyster and The Pearl unpicks the nebulous mass of meanings and myth that bind themselves to pearls and the women who wear them.  Since antiquity we have valued pearls for their slippery qualities – a smooth, uninterrupted surface, colourlessness, strange games with light, an implausible spherical symmetry – the same qualities that lend them the mute plasticity of a perfect symbol; suggestive never explicit, always just beyond the known. It is these qualities that have made pearls synonymous with archetypal notions of femininity. This text explores pearls as symbols and as objects bringing together myth and reality in a personal journey inspired by an unexpected gift. 


  • Cecily McNamara
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Critical Writing in Art & Design, 2014

  • Degrees

  • BA Fashion Design, Middlesex University, 2012
  • Publications

  • 'Ammonite, Australiceras Gigas';'An Interview with Ken McNamara', House Guests, exhibition catalogue, Kettles Yard, 2013; 'Transcendent Metal', Ends Meet: Essays on Exchange, Royal College of Art, 2014; 'The Pearl', As Is The Sea, Royal College of Art, 2014; 'Better and Worse Dreams (Some Ideas about Design', ARK: Words and Images from the Royal College of Art Magazine 1950–1978, Royal College of Art, 2014, pp.111-12