“Witty, affectionately parodic, they open the door to a closet full of cultural fantasies about what it means to be female, below the neck, anyway, with an appraising eye. but, while they're critical, they also acknowledge the pleasures of looking and being looked at, of voyeurism and display.” 

Nancy Tousley, Canadian Art

Take Me to the Art Fair: This Artweek.LA
Bill Bush,, January 16, 2013.  View Article...

Cathy Daley: New Work
Artweek.LA, January 15, 2013.  View Article...

Fashionality: Challenging the Dress Code
Gabrielle Moser, Canadian Art, August 30, 2012.  View Article...


“In Daley’s scrumptious drawings, the dress is shown in all its modalities, as a giant strapless frock worthy of Anita Ekberg in Felini’s La Dolce Vita, as a dress – maelstrom, whirling about the wearer as a tornado, and as a big black cosmic cloud full of stars – the dress as universe. Slung somewhere between feminist critique and little-girl longing, Daley’s dress and pumps form an elastic surrogate for the artist herself – as torn as anyone else between responsibility and desire.”

Gary Michael Dault, The Globe and Mail


Cathy Daley’s drawings play, reiterate, and perform the iconicity and nostalgia of the dress in our cultural imaginary. In keeping with the post-feminist tendency to appropriate and re-examine through complicity rather than opposition, the artist re-articulates a symbolic vestige of the feminine cultural construct through the excavation of memory and visual imagery. The artist’s prolific reiterations invoke the sensual mystery of the dress in endless shapes and forms and seem to enact the indefatigable fascination it holds for us through serial repetitions. We are held by the fantasy, the pleasure and the ambivalence of an ideal that has permeated visual culture and continues to attain its unwavering allure. Daley’s work sustains fascination in its engagement with the myth; at times iconoclastic, and at times complicit the work explores the complexity of a conflicted longing for the “feminine.”

Marieke Treilhard, Catalogue Essay, Edward Cella Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, California


Cathy Daley at Birch Libralato, “Daley’s signature oil pastel on vellum images of wind-blown skirts-up figures – gamboling gamines, all nubile legs and gravity defying textiles – make haute couture’s rigid calculations look stolid. In Daley’s world femininity equals movement, twisters in full twirl not pristine encasement. The “kicky skirt” takes on a whole new meaning.”

R.M. Vaughan, Globe and Mail

“These drawings constitute a virtuoso performance... (and) reflect a contemporary post-feminist ambivalence toward fashion, critiquing the garment industry’s wrapped-and-bound feminine ideal and the notion of woman as spectacle.”

Roni Feinstein, Art in America


“If Daley’s drawings proffer a semiotics of feminine glamour, divorced from any ‘real’ of the female body or day to day existence, her use of sources whose representations of femininity are a forceful presence in the cultural imaginary highlights how such representations shape the contours of identity.” The work further addresses itself to the challenge for women of securing a language of female desire and sexuality from within the vocabulary of culture. Thus there exists an ambiguity in these depictions that sets in place an uncertain tension between the appeal of these gowns and a resistance to their allure. This resistance is marked by the very excess of their rendering - an exaggeration which highlights their illusory quality - and by the wit and irony of the work, with its effects of distanciation. This ambivalence finds an echo within feminist thought, between its forceful critique of the fashion industry and the recognition of fantasy as an object of pleasure, an embodiment of fantasy and a vehicle of play.”

Renee Baert, catalogue essay ‘Trames de Memoires’, Centre Expression, Saint-Hyacinthe

“On the surface, Cathy Daley’s work ruminates about popular representations of women – those sexy, highly polished glossies we see in advertising and fashion magazines. Seductive and beautiful, Daley’s drawings have always lured me into a web of issues. I know I project, but it's worth exploring don't think I am too far off. What comes to mind is the collective masquerade of the female body, grotesque in its social significance: Who really looks like that? What do we do to ourselves to try to look like that? Daley’s black and white drawings exaggerate limbs, elongate certain body parts – parts accessorized with fashion heels, skirts, dresses, fishnet stockings, etc. Blown out of proportion and fragmented, these bodies are brief quotations from the external world brought inside and re-manipulated foregrounding the various other levels of social and technological manipulation So simple, so concise, so profound.”

Kym Pruesse, catalogue essay, Just My Imagination


“While critical of woman as spectacle and object of voyeurism, Daley acknowledges the subversive pleasures of fashion and fantasy. Through her phantom dresses, she casts an ambivalent, yet affectionate look at these cultural icons - these ghosts of childhood illusions - which continue to reverberate in female consciousness.”

Carolyn Bell Farrell, essay “Little Black Dress” , The Koffler Gallery

“Daley has been able to make the simple black dress a container for a complicated set of issues that touch on the aesthetic, the political, the autobiographical and the cultural. Rarely in art has so little supported so much with such elegance.”

Robert Enright, Border Crossings

“Cathy Daley’s evening dresses are inflated to IMAX proportions. Every black pastel drawing exudes excess: a crinoline floating outward like an enormous mushroom cloud, a richly rendered black gown melting its 16 foot rain across a a white vellum field. The fantasy is tantalizing - velvety glamour adorned with ostrich feathers - yet absurd because of course, the dresses are simultaneously unwearable. (Frankly, not even Scarlet O’Hara could inhabit these epic gowns.) The dresses billow beyond the standard size four, and the average consumer’s grasp, to address all our celluloid fantasies about femininity. What’s more, they swell with humour. Daley’s light brush loops and bouncy ruffles nicely complement the weighty material. Like a giggle or a harmless park, the help deflate fashion and art’s pouty seriousness.”

Kyo Maclear, Toronto Life

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