Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Burning the Bra.

Yesterday via @UK_Feminista on Twitter, I found a Facebook group called Feminists Protest Sexist 'Miss World' Contest 2011. At the name of the title, I innocently wondered what on earth would posses people to protest about an event that has been around for many decades. A contest that honours women for talent, their enthusiasm to save the world and their beauty.
 On inspection of the group and what their ideas were, I fully understood and related. It was feminists against the competitive nature of the event and the objectification of women. In 1970, there was a protest against the Miss World competition, where many women lined up outside the Royal Albert Hall, stating 'We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry” and “ban this disgraceful cattle market!”. 

During this famous protest, flour bombs were thrown by men and women, Bob Hope who was presenting that year tried to flee the stage, police were called in and the world took notice of what they were doing and saying. It reads as an interesting and hell-raising year for Miss World, and it worth a read up about the 1970 protests here.

The people who take part force themselves through many rounds, layered in make up, dressed in bikinis, formal dresses and glittering talent outfits. Although taking part is seen to some as a part of being a woman, it does not prepare you do deal with modern life in reality. The event, the ultimate beauty pageant, sees many young women take part from all over the world, where they have already taken part in local and national competitions in their native country.

There have been portrayals of beauty pageants in films in the last decade or so including Miss Congeniality(2000), Little Miss Sunshine(2006) and Drop Dead Gorgeous(1999). In Little Miss Sunshine, you see a young bespectacled girl Olive obsessed with beauty pageants, winning a local pageant by default and getting through to a regional pageant 700miles away. The young girl, despite her unconventional looks [no make up, giant glasses, slightly podgy] and talent [best dance scene in a film of the noughties], has courage and enthusiasm for the pageant. Her father, Greg Kinnear, tries to impose on his own daughter how she should look, 'skinny or fat', after she orders ice-cream for breakfast. He mutters that ice-cream is not what the skinny beauty pageants eat, imposing the idea that people shouldn't be fat. Her mother, Toni Colette steps in and tells her daughter it is her choice whether she wants to be skinny or fat, and either choice is ok as long as she is happy. It is these enforcement's like Kinnears patronising character, that young women live their lives by. It is the enforcement that you must be skinny to take part in these contests. You must look and behave a certain way to be accepted, and in Olives case, she looks and behaves much the opposite and questions herself against the other young girls.

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a comedy that tears the ideologies of beauty pageants in America apart. You see many young women enter a local pageant, a few dropping out in suspicious and unfortunate circumstances. The movie questions the idea of an ideal winner,Neve Campbell, a traditional pretty rich girl who wants to save the world with a ex-beauty pageant winning mother, or Kirsten Dunst, a hard working good-hearted girl who lives in a trailer park. The film mocks the whole process light-heartedly which really questions why take it all so seriously? It has the similar idea that a girl who doesn't necessarily fit the conventions of a winner should win or even compete.

What does it mean to be a women? It does not mean showing your body off in competition with other young women. It causes peer pressure, stress and does not allow individuals to fill their full potential as a unique human being and as women of the modern world.

Looking through the Facebook group for the event being held on 6th November, there were interesting discussions about the attendance of men for the protest. I thought this was an interesting debate as it raises questions about feminist protests and how they are represented when in full action and does it actually make THEM sexist? What does it mean to them to have men support them- does it show human race united for equality or show feminists as weaker protesters?
The debate between two people, the group creator, the London Feminist Network and a women. It became increasingly interesting as the unnamed woman, declared herself as neither a man or woman, just a human in a female body. She felt it unfair and sexist not to allow men to attend if they support the cause and refused to attend the protest.

Here are some snippets of the discussion:
 Above: by Unnamed Woman.
One of the replies by LFN
Katie Richardson has organized a protest against Miss World that allows men to attend.

Sexism will continue to rage on.


Paris, Je T'aime

 So a couple of weeks ago, I adventured over the English Channel to Paris with my good friend Andrea.On our expedition, we explored Paris by foot, by boat and metro, and saw all the essential sights. From our 3 night stay, the most impressive thing we took away was the architecture around the city, it was pure beautiful and enchanting in some areas, which for me, won me over more than London ever has.

From our hotel, looking north into the city.

Space Invaders street art, found in Mouffetard. I found this very exciting as I had never really seen street art by someone that I knew[no I've never seen a Banksy in person].
Later on in the day, I found another one! This one was located on the way from Latin Quarters to Notre Dame before we crossed the bridge. I was surprised to find two in one day in a foreign city, but they had their charm against towering old buildings.

Poetry found in the Latin Quarters with a giant illustration [see below]

It reminds me of something I have seen before, but I cannot put my finger on what it is. However, the art stands out in the area and really lifts it, even if it doesn't compliment the brick work or area with its bold motif.

This staircase was in a small church east of Pantheon, which I cannot remember the name of. However, the church was beautiful and full of decorative detailed sculptures and statues. This piece of a man holding up the staircase, had details throughout and really stood out in the church. We also visited Sucre-Coeur whilst in Paris and thought it awfully bland in comparison to this small church which was full of character and charm. Behind this wooden sculptured stairs, is a white staircase which was just as beautiful.

On our way to Musee d'Orsay, we walked over the bridge opposite, where we found the sides were covered in padlocks. I thought this very bizzare but obviously a community/public project of some kind. With a little research, I found that it was Love Locks- a custom where lovers attach a padlock as a symbol of their love for eachother. On inspection, I saw that many of the locks had names or initials on them, representing the couple. A very sweet idea which is actually carried out in many other places across the world. Read More Info

Love Locks.

Louvre. We came to the Louvre late in the day, and so we went to see only a few main exhibits- Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. The Mona Lisa was exhibited on its own wall, making the infamous painting look even smaller, especially when it was surrounded by huge detailed paintings in comparison. I did not think much of Mona Lisa, but then again, I couldnt get that close due to the sea of tourists, tour groups and cameras. However, the surrounding paints were so glorious. I loved the painting above, with the man draped elegantly over a bed of clouds whilst two women look on. The colours are heavenly and bright whilst the composition fills the space well, with your eyes concentrated on the very center of the painting.

I took this merely to show scale of some of the pictures. It's truly incredible to think that people work on these ginormous scales and I cannot even comprehend how they started or worked through a piece so large. 
This lovely engraving was on a tomb in Montmatre, and I found it a very gentle, simple and yet unique image to have on the side of a tomb. The colours, now faded from its original bright blue, make the piece as eerie as the cemetery itself.

The Eiffel Tower. The size was overwhelming as you walk towards it at close distance. This photo was taken underneath to show the complex construction of one leg. It was very interesting seeing the detail of the structure that you never see in films etc, and was very magical to see light up and glitter at night.
Another picture from Louvre, showing the various frames. I am obsessed with beautiful frames, and I spent more time looking at frames than the images themselves. These paintings all had their own unique frames, and yet as a collective it really does not matter as it adds character to each individual piece of art.

Finally, this magnificent sculpture was in the Jardins de Luxemburg next to the Palace and I was interested with the story behind the sculpture. Above, in green, a man full of rage looks down upon a white couple. One presumes that it perhaps is a father looking down at his daughter, maybe representative of Greek or Roman Gods. There was no information to read up about the sculture, that was situated at the end of a long pond, which I felt disappointed by.

Paris is full of lots of inspiring sculpture, architecture and artwork, that I would happily explore again in a few years time. A very beautifully charming city.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


A friend linked me to a very cool artist, who uses threat, nails and wood to create art work. I have seen similar work before from Peter Crawley who creates stitched illustration, however everyone has unique technique and ideas.

Gabriel Dawe, born in Mexico now living in Canada, has had many large installations, in America, Canada and the UK. What really is absorbing from the work is the use of colour to create the large pieces and create the right tones. The detailed photo below shows how much thread is needed and the amount of of over layering occurs in the corners. What I love about the piece is the shadows it creates on the white wall it is mounted upon.

'Piexus no.3'
Layers of thread that have been hung between pieces of wood. Every angle creates an interesting perspective of the installation.

I like the use of threads on fabric, which partially relies on the positioning of the thread for the piece to stand out. Interesting contrast of colours.

'End of Childhood'
A selection of toys that have been 'wrapped' with threads. Conceptually interesting and visually entertaining.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Reality Ecaspism.

 This was a piece that I started before I went to Paris and wasn't able to finish. It is a personal piece of work, reflecting a personal feeling towards popular magazines for women. I have been working on a piece of writing to go with the image which will follow over the weekend (it requires some editing before publishing). A first of many insights into the modern women and ideologies reinforced upon them.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Merci Beaucoup!

I have been so busy recently with a trip to Paris with my pal Andrea Bonnell [blog], starting a new part-time job as well as trying to sort out all old projects to begin a fresh new one! Busy Busy Busy. My to do list is currently as long as my arm but am slowly sorting myself out so that I can blog about my research and ideas- hurrah!

When I came back from Paris on Friday morning, I was blessed with TWO packages! Everyone likes getting post, but receiving 2 packages was like a mini Christmas.

The first package was one I ordered a few weeks back called Suffragettes to She-Devils by Liz McQuiston. The book is all about the use of graphics and and media used in the fight by woman for equality. I came across this book during my final year at university through another student and since re-looking through my research, I knew I wanted a copy for myself to be able to refer to. It features graphics from the Guerrila Girls, Barbara Kruger, Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlitt as well as graphics to support women with independence and rights. I will post more with time and research.

The second package was not something I was expecting. Upon opening, I found The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, a book about inspiring creative minds to reach their full potential, written by a successful American choreographer. I haven't had much of a chance to read it, only glance through, and it seems very inspirational to motivate people.
With a look inside the package, I found a note which told me it was sent by The Girls, Zoe and Andrea to thank me for helping with Grand Grotesque Parade. There is nothing more  heartening than someone to keep you supported and motivated to do what you love. Thank you SO much Zoe and Andrea!

'The first steps of a creative act are like groping in the dark: random and chaotic, feverish and fearful, a lot of busy-ness with no apparent or definable end in sight.'