Monday, 11 February 2013

Storm in a Tea Cup

Words, in the following paragraphs, will fail me I’m sure. This is because I’m going to attempt to describe a disjoined thought process. My art will never be high concept, ideas normally just pop into my head and I do it…without any thought at all really but this project, which is a work in progress, did have a thought process behind it. Or at least a series of musings that inspired it. It is also a collaboration…another thing I am not used to. It is a collaboration with the person who probably inspired the whole thing in the first place, feminist lingerie designer Ruth Schechner (click her name for her blog).

I guess I always thought of myself as a feminist in as much as I always felt that the liberation and empowerment of women was a good thing but I never thought too hard about it. I was fascinated when I met Ruth and she told me about her drive to design “beautiful under garb that women can be sexually expressive in without allowing themselves to be/feel objectified sexually.” We’ve had a few discussions since regarding female sexual expression and the history of female sexual repression and linking it to creativity. Seeds were scattered in my mind.

I also found myself thinking I had noticed a link between the vintage aesthetic (predominately 1920’s to 1950’s) and an openness regarding sexual expression. This could well be a load of tosh but it was just a casual observation on a personal level. The performance art of burlesque also seems to support this idea. The dominant audience for burlesque is women, it is a very feminist form of sexual expression and its aesthetics are vintage. I find this fascinating because the style is taken from a period of time where there was still a tremendous deal of inequality between the sexes. It almost feels to me like a way of liberating that time period. It could also be a connection with that period of time during two world wars when women’s liberation moved forward in some great bounds, the right to vote, effectively proving that woman could do the same jobs as men when they stepped up to essentially run the country while most of the men of Europe tried to kill each other, erotic literature for women written by women (Delta of Venus by Anais Nin) etc.

For whatever reason these threads of thought lead me to started thinking about putting vintage nudes on tea cups. I was thinking that afternoon tea was this very open and proper activity back in the day in England, in a time where female sexual expression was quite the opposite. I liked the idea of having illustrations that were about female sexuality on objects symbolic of a controlled and ‘wholesome’ ritual in a repressed time. Initially I thought I would use drawings of Victorian nudes, partly because I wanted to go pre-war to a time where female liberation and sexual empowerment were even more repressed. I had a doubt however, were Victorian nudes photographed purely for the sexual gratification of men? I wasn’t sure but it seemed likely to me.

I then thought again of what Ruth was trying to achieve and fell in love with the idea of putting Ruth’s ‘feminist lingerie’ on Victorian nudes and then putting said nudes on objects from the tea service. So here is the first airing of the first pieces in this collaboration. Ruth designed the outfits and I drew the illustrations and attached them to china. What makes it just that little bit more perfect is that Ruth and I met in a vintage tearoom. I’m can’t comment if any of the above comes across in them but I’m pleased with them. 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Now That I Know

There is new work coming but I am working on a number of different things at once and this, I fear, tends to delay all of the projects. I'd also be making a lier of myself if I did not confess to a fair degree of social activity over creativity in the last few weeks. It is a difficult cross to bare to be both naturally talented AND hugely popular. I struggle on. Anyway in the absence of up to date work I thought I'd post some very very old work. A comic strip I started 9 years ago but was then distracted from by becoming a nurse. It was called 'Now That I Know' and it was going to be an exaggerated biography of sorts, personal and neurotic. It was to be loosely about moving on after a signifigant relationship ends and other joys of life. Originally I intended it to be a series of one page strips like below:

But then I decide to make it a complete on going story line. It was published by my friend Sean under his excellent underground comic publishing guise Paper Tiger. Hope you enjoy be clear it was meant to be funny not depressing! I just find humour in the sadder or anxiety fuelled moments of life. It amused me anyway. Eagled eyed readers will spot fellow bloggers Dan Locke and Lawrence Elwick.