Thursday, December 2, 2010

100 Artists for World Aids Day, Brighton 17th December.

I'll be showing (and hopefully selling) some new work at this charity event, it'll be great and lots of very talented artists with their wares.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Art + GSOH = This

Saw this and had to post it, it's by Craig Damrauer, it tickled me, and then made me think, it could always be Modern Art = I could do that, but I didn't because it's pointless, but from there it's a slippery slope into "what is art for anyway" value judgements on quality and skill versus thought-provokingness, like can a can of Manzoni's shite and a beautifully executed and intelligent painting really be under the same banner, and the self-referential in jokes of and about art... etc etc. Anyway, I digress, I found this piece on a U.S. website promoting affordable art for art lovers everywhere. It's run by Jen Bekman whose promo bags were everywhere at The Armory show in New York early this year. She also has a wee little gallery on the Lower East Side that I visited in February and saw the work of the wonderful artist, Clare Grill below. This lady can paint a damn good cake. Paint and cake my two favourite things! So I kind hit jackpot coming across this, will most likely get me a very very reasonable $20 (£12.82) print!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Fear is Abating

Well, have just been working on the third painting I've started in a week, it is all but done. The other two are still in progress. It's weird without obsessive planning, and without (much) anxiety I've been able to begin these and they are full of what I've wanted my work to be full of for ages. Reading I've done has somehow influenced everything about them. Maybe my thinking, once given the go ahead with the action of finally working on something concrete, has become useful and implicit, the interesting and arresting things that inform and provide me with the motivation to do this kind of work are there without struggle. As my good friend Sarah often says quoting Bjork "It's not meant to be a strain".

New journal/zine am planning with a friend.

She's going to be called GLORIA and the theme is the Bjork song "Unison". Email us at if you'd like to contribute and we'll send the details.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Fear

I've been so scared to start, I plan and plan and plan. I make notes for concepts and motifs and all sorts of things that are very interesting, but the problems is I have ideas constantly, all (well that's pushing it a bit) many could be developed and worked on and they fire about in my skull all day and, most annoyingly just as I'm drifting off to sleep. Do I wake myself up and write them down or trust that they're so incisive I'll remember? These days I tell myself that since this I have a backlog, if it's that good I'll remember it and if I don't, to hell with it.

Anyway, my point is to start, to begin and not in a little notebook or sketchbook. This approach is not for me right now, that's too easy and too much like the preparation I've come to use as a crutch, I've done enough of that. When I was doing my A' Levels my teacher complained that I didn't prepare enough, he could tell I'd done my "prep" work afterward to meet the criteria, he had no problem with the finished pieces, just that he had no idea how I'd gotten there. Most of the time if I had done any draft work, I'd throw it away so there was no evidence that I did "rough" work, I didn't want anyone to think I ever did anything that wasn't to a very high standard, sorry I mean perfect (I think I believed that was actually possible at the time). I missed out on some of the thinking that's generated when working practically. Maybe I realised then, that if I think too much, I'll think myself out of doing things, so I decided to jettison the preparatory drafts, and perhaps missed out on something in the process. That was 12 years ago and now I've gone totally the other way. But instead of rough work there are pages and pages of notes and musings and occasional sketches, doodles and repeat patterns. And much fewer paintings.

I've come to rely on reading about all manner of things relating to what I want to convey and that has got in the way a bit. I can be a bit literal at times, I've been running this way and that forgetting that in reading and researching, (which I would never jettison) by osmosis my work will change and be as influenced as I am. I'd also dabbled with graphics in a very rigid way, ignoring the fact that I could incorporate text and design into a fine art portfolio without having to change my professional identity to fit the method. I had wanted to be concrete where I never had before, really I want to create mood and representations of people and of fluid ideas that are mutable, gently humourous at times and intelligently beautiful.

Well, I'm starting,...again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Catharzine dose #1

Artistically, and I suppose professionally over the last 10 or so years I've compromised a lot, I've thought there were rules that are not there, I became obsessed with a literal and objective imaging of feminism that I could not express, or even begin to, mostly because of the impossibility of the task. I don't want to say I've wasted a lot of time because my experiences have been varied and interesting, and my portfolio is pretty big, but it's not the portfolio I ever imagined I would have. It is full of design and illustration which although to a high standard, these avenues were "sensible" alternatives to fine art, I thought it would be better to put my energies into these things as trying to be a painter was considered unrealistic, I'm not sure by whom really, I think I took it on myself because fine art seemed like a luxury for people with money to pursue. So depsite being so passionate at school and then college, with encouragement from every angle I somehow lost what I wanted to do, even needed to do to stay sane, and these things all combined contribute to a frustration which I cannot give a clear voice. Catharzine is a personal project I had the idea for about 18 months ago, but having turned thirty and a corner is timely for me right now. It is based on the idea of writing and painting as a therapy and drug. As cathartic and analytical. Playing with the word catharsis in zine form it even sounds pharmaceutical. It is unintelligible because emotion and frustration are usually hard to define, sometimes hurtful, sometimes angry, sometimes comic, often so many things at once, it is tragicomic even, the melodrama is not lost on me, and this makes it even more enjoyable and useful I think, it's serious and stupid. Inspired by the work of an artist and psychoanalyst I studied for my BA dissertation, Bracha Litchenberg-Ettinger, I have made these pieces as palimpsests writing over and over the words till they lose their literal meaning and become meaningful in their illegible chaos. I'm tired of my self-imposed restrictions, but have some baggage to shed whilst taking the brakes off and these pages are the illustrative equivalent of screaming into a pillow, as was once recommended to me by a doctor...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

WRVS Heritage Plus Portslade

I've been really lucky to work for WRVS Heritage Plus on four occasions, the three year lottery funded project has just come to an end and I'm just finishing up my last reminiscence art project for my group in Portslade. Above is the collaborative painted quilt made at the end of a five week reminiscence activity programme. The theme was "Parenting" and I for one enjoyed myself immensely working with Rod, June, Janet, Mel, Jen, Chris, Christine, Bill, Sathi, Eileen and Frank. They're all parents with lots to share about the joys and hardships they experienced bringing up their children. I learned an enormous amount and I'm in the process of producing a booklet based on our discussions so that these valuable tales can inspire others.

Shape and Situate

A little while ago, I posted a poster I'd painted and designed for a zine on inspirational European women, well, the first issue of "Shape and Situate" is now in print, isn't she lovely?! Conceived and brought into the world (sorry for preggo metaphors) by the fabulous Melanie Maddison also responsible for "Colouring Outside the Lines" and "Reassess Your Weapons" among other projects. Issue #2 needs contributors so...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Woman in the Art World

In March, I mentioned an artist called Deborah Kass, I saw a piece of her work at Anna Kustera's gallery in New York and really loved her use of text - am doing some painterly words myself at the minute, they'll probably not see the light of day due to their "experimental" nature ie they're a bit ropey, but it's very cathartic and fun. But anyway, that's not the point. The point is I just thought I'd go visit her site and saw the piece below, it's gorgeous gorgeous. And smart and wonderful. It's got it all. It's called "After Louise Bourgeois"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Directed by Julie Taymor (She directed the wonderful, glorious, beautiful 'Frida')

Postcards for FIL Auction

Thanks to those who bid on my work to raise money for Feminism In London. A really great night organised by Sarah Maple, very successful and entertaining evening, really proud to have been a part of it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Trouser wearing.

Ah the irony of choosing an outfit for a trendy (Shoreditch Trendy - as if there were any other kind), feminist art event...

I'm used to being pretty scruffy these days, I iron nothing and none of my jeans really fit so it's been leggings (and jeggings) mostly - they're so versatile and stretchy, their main virtue. So what to do? I never go to stuff like this, the last one I went to I was perilously in contrast to every other woman there, it's a minefield. I wouldn't normally care, I have a go-to dress (good with leggings and jeans and boots) but I wear it ALL THE TIME, and I always look fat in it if photographed, I know, I know but... Also my friend has organised it so want to make an effort to look like I made an effort y'know? After more effort than, politically, given the nature of the event I should have spent, I'm wearing a pair of my boyfriend's trousers and feel far more comfortable.
And have contrasted successfully with some appropriate red shoes!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Feminism in London Postcard Auction organised by artiste Sarah Maple

This will be most excellent, am very excited and somewhat overawed to be in such company.
Hopefully lots of money will be raised but perhaps more valuable is the raising of awareness, the gradual progress of such things into the mainstream norm. Please come along if you can! x

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stu Stu Studio

Having just completed a project and pre-tidy-up this is my workspace montaged in a Hockney-Joineresque fashion.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Zine for Inspirational Women

I've been invited to contribute to a poster zine on inspirational European women. This is my poster, I love Paula Rego's work, she influences much of my figurative work in one way or another. Especially the images of sturdy women which I'm working on. When the zine is all done and out I will post the details here, I'm really excited to see who others have chosen.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

BLOOM BOOM all finished.

14 hours later, Lady Garden is complete! Well worth it, am proud of the detail. It will be displayed somewhere in the town from next week.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Neon Hair & Neon Joy

Consuming large quantities of alcohol at birthday parties + UV face-paints + glowsticks = photos of creative drunks. Had a great 30th put my 21st to shame! Next year laser shows perhaps...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

'Lady Garden' For G-Moo Gallery's 'Bloom Boom' community project

For my contribution to Ginger Moo's Bloom Boom community Project I've decided to go with hair as my theme. I've included as many different hair colours and types as possible to suggest diversity (of age and ethnic background) in our community and I also want to highlight the importance of hair (mainly for women) in our culture. It is problematic and revered symbolically and groomed and obliterated actually, for seemingly many different reasons. Hair on women is significant based on its quality, quantity and location on the body and we buy into many prejudices whether they are commercially, religiously or sexually rooted. As a feminist I believe women should be able to choose how to present their bodies, since the image of the female body is contentious from all different angles, as Germaine Greer said (and I paraphrase) there is no liberation to be had from flaunting our bodies or covering them up, it's a catch 22 if we think that this where our worth lies. Image is important in any culture and hair plays a part in this, but it is neither the root of our power and worth, nor is hair's meaning trivial, the issues are more tangled than we may ever be able to comb through...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bodies of Work

(Above image from site - not mine)

Some of my work has been included on the new website Bodies of Work.

"Bodies of Work
is a collaborative student project, organised between postgraduates at Cambridge and Sussex, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It forms the second issue of Women and the Arts, a journal published by The Arts Society, Newnham College in December 2009 that marked the 80th anniversary of Virginia Woolf's talk, 'Women and Fiction', which was hosted by The Arts Society in 1928, and its subsequent publication as of A Room of One's Own in 1929."

Have a look around the project's site and also see my Dancers

Also another recent piece of design.

Single artwork & gig flyer for the immensely talented and uncategorizable Riz MC visit his myspace page here you won't be disappointed.

Light Show


Live drawing projections onto My Tiger My Timing @ Ginger Moo Gallery's 1st birthday. Twas much fun.

You have to be prepared.

Been having a block at working for a short while, trying to do too much at once. I've been reading about writing and substituting the word writing for painting and it still is completely apt for the most part. The most valuable thing I've found in the book so far is that 'you have to be prepared to [paint] badly'. It's very freeing. So I'm off to do some bad arting, and see where it takes me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trip Anthem + New Skillz = we're new dorks...

F*cking While Feminst

FEMALE - biz card project for MA

So, as you may have gathered from previous post, still in US. Luckily, we have met so many interesting people there's always lots to keep us amused should we find ourselves bored in NY?!

Last night we went to an event at Barnard College, this is a part of Columbia University, the campus is wow, so grand all the neo-classical erections and wot not, but that said, size and grandeur isn't everything and I like Virginia Woolf's ideas about universities in 'A Room of One's Own' that they need not be so grand and imposing and full of themselves and that the learning is more important than however many slabs of granite and however many years of secret handshakes and society traditions *cough-Oxbridge-cough* so, moving on. The event was a workshop called 'F*cking While Feminist' by a most inspirational young feminist called Shelby Knox whom we'd been lucky enough to meet twice before on this trip.

This was a real eye opener for me, everyone that participated in sharing their observations about sex in general and also their own personal experiences were eloquent, open and respectful of one another. Ideas of feminist sex positivity, which I've always considered to mean that as a feminist you can be a woman with a pulse and desires and not just the stereotype of a craggy old spinster in dungarees yelling that all sex is subjugation and by extension rape, although it's an option taken up by some who spoil the term for the rest of us subservient lot with libidos; I suppose a good analogy is the stereotype of a religious fundamentalist who spoils the image of any religion for those who just have faith and get on with it. [Disclaimer: for the record it's an analogy, I am NOT espousing feminism as a religion.] But from this came other definitions of sex-positive; being open/respectful to all notions of gender and sexual experience; consensual, enjoyable sex where all parties are concerned about each other's fulfillment etc.

The way we express ourselves and the ways in which female sexuality is described and subsequently understood, came under fire quite a bit and it became even more apparent to me than previously that what we understand about sex, our bodies and our (shock horror sexual desires) as women are often abandoned by language, and yet it is communication that would make all of the difference. For women the other major problem, as one girl put it, is that sex is presented to women as about appearing sexy rather than feeling sexy. If all we ever do is contort ourselves so that we look slim and alluring and only our best 'side' is on display then no-one's ever going to get off. Sex is quite silly at times and yet it is used over and over in all manner of media as dead serious and mystical and blah blah blah.

To hear so many down to earth takes on the subject was interesting but there were also troubling things. One girl said that her sex education at school was thus: each girl was given one fresh glass of water and one glass of water with an oreo cookie crumbled into it. They were asked which one they would want to drink from and which one they thought would be appropriate to give to their husband. End of class! Outrageous. In the next room the boys we being told what sex was and how it worked. So, one might wonder, who were the girls these boys were supposed to be having sex with after acquiring this new found knowledge.

There were lots of stories about shame and feeling like they were wrong because they'd had sex young and then Shelby asked me to mention whether my experience with pressures and education was any different from a European perspective and I said that our sex education was fairly adequate but that at my secondary school the pressure was to have sex young, to want to hang onto your virginity was social suicide, to ditch it was a talking point and a trophy. This is as sad as treasuring it beyond all reason. It is not the most valuable or significant thing about anyone. There are lots of first times for all sorts of things sexual and otherwise.

This innovative approach where women have the freedom to discuss their experiences and concerns is real education, younger girls should be privy to panels such as this and be able to voice their confusion or ideas around sex. Sex education isn't just about mechanics and fear, it should be about pleasure too and about how to feel entitled to it without feeling like some hormonally charged slapper! Also very importantly the freedom not to have sex in our sex-saturated (sorry bad image) culture, opting out is as much of an option as opting in, it's about choice y'all after all.

Act of God - sorry, what?

Smoke Landscape HDR, originally uploaded by hugeknot.

Well, where to start? Had a very eventful few days and in hindsight it will all be very amusing...

So, a volcano erupts in Iceland and some flights are disrupted, we didn't think it would last long enough to effect our eagerly anticipated journey home (it's been amazing in the US these last months, but we both got cats we miss!) we were mega-wrong with bells on.

Then, in the early hours of Sunday morning we were still up working and the water tank above our bedrooms bursts and water gushed into Sarah's room and the kitchen, the guy who put us up in a converted garage in JC was un-contactable, not sure what we expected really, but that's another story, which will also be funny one day (well actually it's funny now but that's another story even)... So we called the Fire Dept which was quite exciting, by the time they arrived we were actually flooded and the kitchen and Sarah's room were under 2" of water and it was spreading throughout pretty quick. To stop it all we needed to do was shut off the stop-cock but we'd never been told where it was and in our defense it can't have been in an obvious place since the FD guys couldn't find it for ages either! God knows what they made of our space with some of our paraphernalia, Sarah had been doing a project with some rubber breasts which were hanging on the wall, and we have two cat a New Jersey...

The next day our flight got canceled, we had no hot water, no kitchen and only one bedroom - the guy next door was really nice, he made us cappucinos and he had four cats (four!) so that cheered us up. Cue the next couple of days on and off on hold to Virgin Atlantic (seriously we were cut off so often being on hold for two hours at a time was something to celebrate) and the British Consulate in New York trying to make sure we didn't end up being detained for being illegal in the US, deportation would have been fine had it been possible! We were told initially that our earliest flight home would be the 1st of May!!! We persevered on hold the next day and brought it forward to the 26th. Luckily we were flying with Virgin so we have somewhere to stay that only has water in appropriate places like the sink, in Manhattan, which is lucky as even if we'd been welcome to stay where we were, it would have been as bleak and dank as a skanky flooded garage in New Jersey...

The staff at Virgin were a delight, maybe it had something to do with being so happy to speak to a human after listening to their automated toff going on about how great flying with Virgin is for soooo long, but considering they were probably dealing all day with people like the unhinged harpy I turned into when speaking to my travel insurance company, that makes them even nicer. The galling thing was that Virgin Holidays office is right near where I live, these people were literally a four minute walk from my cats...the audacity... I'm ashamed to say, my dealing with the travel insurance company was not so pleasant. I called the shareholders something not nice and rather loudly enquired of the poor woman on the other end of my Skype connection, why anyone ever bloody well bothers to buy any insurance at all. I'd searched the policy for the phrase 'Act of God' and it wasn't there so thought it would be ok, my mum wonders what Richard Dwarkins would have made of that in the same circumstances 'well, I'm an atheist and that won't wash with me, so cough up you despicable bunch of rip-off merchants' (that's how I imagine he'd phrase it). But in clause A.1.49.5 there was some toss about any delay as the direct or indirect(?) result of an order from any government about anything. At all. !@£$%^&*(?

Anyway, got a bit of holiday time at the end of this trip and are free from the bizarre damp studio set-up and it's affiliates, so all being well, home on Monday. Being an atheist like the aforementioned Professor Dwarkins all I can do is cross my fingers to aid this eventuality!! But maybe being such an infidel is a contributing factor since apparently it is immodest women and the godless that cause natural disasters, I do have a couple of low cut tops (lawks!) and I'm utterly faithless, whoops...check this out naughty women = earthquakes ...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Last NYC Zine Unless Icelandic Volcano keeps us here forever!!

Click images to see detail

Read the original here on Google books (begins page 101 of The Yellow Wallpaper & Other Stories)

NY ZIne FYI #3 Feminist Sweepstakes

Click on images to see detail.

Monday, April 12, 2010


I am very much enamoured with the work of Canadian artist/designer Marian Bantjes, I first saw her work in Varoom the illustration journal about a year ago and have been hooked ever since. I love her work, partly because it's often very pattern based which is something which is very important in my own work, also I fall down the gap between designer and artist myself and it was heartening to see someone who so successfully weaves the two so beautifully together and has no trouble with being difficult to pigeon-hole.

I was totally excited to see that she's written and designed a book which can only be described as a luxury feast for the eyes (and I've only seen excerpts on her website I scooted straight to Amazon to pre-order my I have to wait till October for it but it'll be worth it I'm sure.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Identity Politics, John Ruskin & ladies in their (very) smalls.

I was doing some notemaking and writing for my feminist zinework and stumbled upon a thought, it's probably not highly original, but it's a good analogy. Anyway, I was thinking about identity politics and how the term is used disparagingly to describe the 'frivolous' concerns of feminists who choose to consider representation as an important issue as opposed to activism in other areas. And I was thinking that, in a visual culture, where much of what we perceive of our roles in the world and of things other than our own direct experience is through the media, digital and all manner of coma inducing flickering screens and magazines that are as so far from smart they're, well, far away, the representation of adult women to young women is a very important issue. The iconic/ubiquitous/replicated images of women in the public domain have potency. Especially when these images are disseminating very narrow visions of what women might be, and also very importantly where women might be. To overtly sexualize representations of women, even out in broad daylight (for an immediate example Victoria's Secret ads above the store on Broadway or almost any magazine stand er anywhere), is to relegate them to the private sphere, the bedroom, to continue to propagate the Victorian notion that male=public & female=the home, albeit in a slightly different way to the likes of John Ruskin and his ilk, too much ankle for his lot I think, although he'd probably have given the practice of Brazilian waxing the thumbs up.

Anyway, the analogy I mentioned above: Have you ever been told, that to lessen the feelings of fear when giving a presentation one might try imagining the audience in their underwear as this serves to make them seem less intimidating, more comical, more vulnerable to you invulnerable clothedness? Let’s think about that for a moment…How often do we see images, in public, on the internet etc. of women in their underwear (or less)? That’s right all the time. Is this a coincidence? Probably not so much. So, as I said it's not the most ground-breaking thing, but sometimes I think it helps to be able to succinctly express why things are troubling, it stops one sounding like the Le Tigre track '
They want to make a symphony out of the sound of women swallowing their own tongues' when asked the question what's the problem? Why are you a feminist? err and um, and there's.... and um, and there's.... (can't disabled blinking italics).

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MA FYI zine #2

Here is the second zine I've completed for my course since I've been away. It's the Instruction & Advice Issue. We've met and continue to meet such great and inspiring people and I wanted to juxtapose the good sense and inspired ideas we've been offered, with the anonymous imperatives that come from street signs, packaging and sometimes even artwork. I'm pleased with this, using my photos was a great way to express things with immediacy. I've nearly finished the third one on the Feminist Serendipity which has decided the over-arching vibe of our stay.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MyTMyT Germany 2010

MyTMyT Germany 2010, originally uploaded by jo-harrison.

Just completed this poster for the great band My Tiger My Timing. Electro-pop-indie brilliance. They're most lovely for dancing too.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Window Dancers 7, originally uploaded by jo-harrison.

I am getting all technical and have just set up my new Flickr account and linked it to this blog! I'm the artist formerly known as Eliza Lazy, but that aka wasn't really working for me, as it was based on a joke about my workaholism which ended up getting lost and looking a bit pretentious. So now my professional identity will be very much me. I had previously thought that my given name was a bit boring, but to hell with it, it's my work that should be interesting after all!

The piece above from my flickr site which you can find here is part of a public art project for Crawley Borough Council. The recession has left lots of empty units and there has been funding to cheer up vacant units and thus the town centre. There has been some criticism levelled at the government for this, as it can be perceived as using artists as a way to distract from more urgent economic problems by being window dressing if you'll excuse the literal pun.

I understand that point but, artists need every break they can get in a very competitive world, we make things that are to be seen after all. And also very importantly, if it's done with good intentions and thought then it can be a great opportunity to use a great big space for positive ideas.

I chose to celebrate the young women of our town, this is one of 8 images created for empty commercial units. I wanted to use vibrant, dynamic, positive images of young women where they are represented dancing and expressing themselves rather than just being employed to decorate or sell things. Also Crawley is a very ethnically diverse town and I wanted the work to acknowledge this, since everyone should be represented in our cultural landscape. The images are based on photographs taken by the very talented Tony Witton who is currently exhibiting a collection of his live music photos at the Ginger Moo gallery also in Crawley.

All things feminist.

If this trip to NY (only three weeks left, will be so sad to leave) has had a recurring theme, it's that feminism is very much alive and kicking like hell. I never doubted it but it's nice to have proof! I was involved in a discussion over drinks with Mapes and Jen Nedeau (excellent writer/feminist/blogger/activist) the other evening and the subject of feminist awakenings came up. It got me thinking about mine, or if I actually had one, I never had a definitive clanging 'Hang on this isn't right - I'm a feminist' as a teenager; I did bunk off school to have the chinese symbol for 'woman' tatooed on my breast at 16, while my heavily pregnant friend had her backside tattooed by a man so creepy he should have worn a bell around his neck (thank you Scrubs for such an excellent quote, needless to say it was aimed at The Todd). Despite my feminist intentions with the tattoo, the experience kinda cancelled out the vibe. I later learned that Melanie C aka Sporty Spice has the same one on her arm...girl power?...

Anyway I digress, I feel I need to look at the notion of such awakenings now, since having been reading, studying, eating and breathing feminist rhetoric, polemic and theory for a long time I have decided upon an outlet for doing something concrete beyond hoarding all of this great information in my brain and just talking. My MA project's new title 'Under Represented & Over Exposed' will be a means to produce material that I aim to have work beyond the gallery space. Material that will tackle the problem of young women and feminist consciousness, a zine and other well-designed, humourous and informative pamphlets and non-profit merch to raise awareness, bolster self-esteem and describe the nature of how self-worth is manipulated by the world around us. I want to make things that will circulate on lapels, on pin boards, taped to books etc. and for the knowledge and messages to be absorbed as normal. I've never wanted to be 'all mouth and no trousers' as the saying goes, so watch this space.

But, I wonder, what kind of things will prompt a feminist awakening in girls and young women under-schooled in their own worth and relevance beyond what is conventionally acceptable and successfully marketable? And in a culture that derides the term feminist, and where one often hears a sentence begin with 'I'm not a feminist but....' as if it's a shameful thing to align yourself with something that promotes equality, freedom, inclusion and diversity? I felt that my teen years were a struggle to fit in, to juggle what I actually wanted to do (stay at home and draw mostly) and what I needed to do and look-like to be acceptable, but by today's standards, I think I had a much easier ride. I feel quite lucky that Grunge was around during my adolescence since it meant that to a degree, for the brief period it was fashionable (before it gave way to scraped back ponytails and bronzing powder) I was able to look bloody scruffy and go unnoticed in this, ghostly pale Collection 2000 powder and black cherries Rimmel lipstick and maybe that weird green concealer from Avon that 'evens out skin tone' were the thing, spots were neutralised and the stark contrast with the lipstick drew attention away from anything else, blemishes, other facial features, natural disasters etc. Such minimal concerns compared to the ever expanding task of grooming today's women are undertaking seem almost quaint.

I hit the big 3-0 in just over three months, and I'm only just crawling out of the abjectly self-conscious pit I fell into as a teenager myself, and that's even with all of all of the things I read, understand, believe and champion. But despite this, is it audacious to want to tackle things for younger women? Is it do-gooding gone mad? Will I look ridiculous trying to talk to 'the kids'? I'm so comfortable in my un-hippness these days is this aim laughable? I hope not, I mean I'm not quite old enough to be the same age as their parents...well. But anyway that shouldn't be an issue, after all some of the coolest brands are no doubt run by old men that wear chinos and deck shoes and are only interested in separating teenagers from the cash in theirs and their parents' wallets, so in that context the strategic aim to boost self-worth and connect like minds isn't so bad.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Art Activities Catch Up + PATTI SMITH!

I've not posted for two weeks now. So much has gone on and I kept meaning to but had lost some momentum, it started to seem like too much to write about without missing things out. But not posting anything for that reason is silly so will catch up here! Most of what we've been up to has been art-related with the odd exception. In the last two weeks we've been to three art fairs, one opening party at a local bar/gallery (which was lots of fun, especially as I got to chat with and get on really well with the artist and curator both of whom are lovely), two museums, one gallery, an auction/benefit for Haiti and a shop that sells almost exclusively artists books and zines which meant that I had to monitor my spending and drooling! (Megan Gulick's exhibtion in Jersey City)

First up, the fairs, I wasn't sure what to expect as I've never been to Frieze or Zoo or anything like that, but even despite being quite hungover on the Friday for The Armory Show (New York's equivalent to Frieze) I really enjoyed it, so many great artists (and some dreadful ones too) in one place. Seeing such a wealth of material at once was quite daunting, but I began quite quickly to be selective, I adopted an 'I know what I like' policy overall as there's so much to get through, I tried not to check the name first but tended to take time with things that caught my eye, art browsing I suppose. I was interested by the fact that there was lots of painting and the wacky/conceptual/cryptic stuff was thinner on the ground than I'd imagined. Something we noticed which wasn't about the art but rather about the attending demographic was that there was virtually no-one there who could have had a BMI over about 20, which is interesting since the US is renowned for its obesity problem. Of course I'm being facetious, it was a bit bloody posh. We noticed a prominent theme in some of the work, of birds and animals in general and chickens in particular. We took a series of photos with Sarah standing confused by chicken related material. Honestly, there were loads!

We went to X Initiative and Pulse art fairs in Chelsea on Sunday - a gloriously sunny day! The stuff at X-Initiative was hosting a lot of non-representational work and some difficult to approach work, I found it a bit difficult to engage with most of the material. There was, however a great piece by Valie Export and a De Lorean one of which I've never seen in real life. There sadly was no Flux-Capacitor but it was still exciting nonetheless. Pulse was great, a veritable smogasbord of talent, stunning painting, sculpture, photography and installation all in a warehouse space almost on the waterfront of the Hudson. Stand out artists for me were:- Alex Prager, Adriana Duque, Megan Greene, Sara Rahbar, Cecilia Paredes, Devora Sperber, Eleanor Rendeiro & Thomas Mueller.


When my man Alex came to visit we did lots of touristy things, we had some great weather for visiting the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, Going to the top of the Empire State Building and a stroll in Central Park. We also visited the International Institute of Photography and because the Tim Burton exhibition was sold out we went to the American Folk Art Museum, which is next door to MOMA and excellent, they currently have an exhibition running call 'Approaching Abstraction' which dispells the myth that self-taught and folk artists are only ever representational and literal. The work in this show is stunning, expressive and thought provoking really worth a visit if you're ever in New York. Next month starting April 6th are two new shows there:-
Women Only: Folk Art by Female Hands & The Private Collection of Henry Darger both of which I'm really looking forward to seeing.

This Monday just gone we went to a Haiti Benefit at Sotherby's where a piece of work by Sarah's friend Stuart Semple was up for auction and also Patti Smith was playing. It was wonderful, I couldn't quite believe it was happening she was stood 8 feet away at most and just in front of us, no stage, nothing. I was totally awestruck and very amused when she gobbed on their carpet!

Today visited another piece of Semple's work in a group show in Chelsea called 'Nobody gets to see the wizard. Not no one. Not no how' an interesting Oz themed collection. Semple's main piece 'Ding Dong (Thatcher's dead)' which compirises of a big black model of a house with feet in blue court shoes with big buckles poking out from underneath, along with an eerie blue glowing, is witty and, since I think that anyone with a heartbeat should loathe Thatcher (when we were little my mum used to get m and my brother Jamie to shout 'Maggie Maggie Maggie! Out Out Out! That's parental indoctrination for you!) I really like it! The other piece I really liked was by an artist called Deborah Kass from her series 'Feel Good Paintings for Feel Bad Times' and it's called 'Forget Your Troubles', executed in a playful pop style with just the title covering the canvas it's a witty and uplifting piece.

After that we visited Printed Matter Inc. around the corner which has been on my list of places to visit since I came across a book by an artist called Kim Beck (who is wonderful judging by the book and her website) This shop deals in artist books and is heaven for any art/bibliophile like myself, I will be going back before we leave. I bought an issue of a journal called Lovely Daze. It's an artist's bi-yearly journal divided into months and full stunning photography, drawing, painting and writing. It is celebratory I think is the best word, not a trace of clever, clever, edgy, knowing, trendy, cynical, quasi-ironic bullshit. It's artists that respect eachother sharing their work with each other. I love it, it will be one of my most treasured possessions from this trip I'm sure of it.
(Kim Beck - artist)