Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Feminism Is Dead.

The Guardian have published a great article, bringing four women together to discuss if feminism is still alive and relevant. The women above are (L-R):
Fiona Ranford, a leading member of UK Feminista.
Rehana Azan, senior trade union official.
Yvonne Roberts, Observer chief leader writer.
Melissa Kite. columnist.

The discussion was raised after Netmums said feminism was dead.

Key points raised by the women, which I found interesting and highly relevant.

Melissa Kite
I sincerely hope feminism is alive. If younger women are rejecting it or saying it's irrelevant, it's only because the women who've gone before them have won so many battles that they now can't see what the problem is.

Rehana Azan:
I don't think feminism is dead. It depends what your interpretation of feminism is. My interpretation is all about having the freedom to choose.

Melissa Kite:
But if a sisterhood means anything, it's women standing together. So feminism shouldn't mean something strident, it should mean women standing together.

Fiona Ranford:
 I think that we need to switch attention away from the individual choices that women are making and turn attention on to the institutions that are restricting those choices – for example, the media that is pumping out images of women that define how women think about their bodies and force them to shape their lives around beauty norms.

Melissa Kite:
 ‘…Netmums survey women are saying that they no longer believe that being feminine or looking glamorous is a barrier to being taken seriously…So yes, we have choice. We can have children, we can work. But actually what's happened in practice is that we're having to do all of it. And that's no good for men, because they are becoming emasculated.’

Melissa raised some key points which I think need to be shared to young women who, as Melissa mentions, aren't aware of the battles that women before us fought. Only then may women realise the privileges and choices that they have.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Sketchbook Project Tour 2012

Earlier this week, I popped to London on my annual trip to London Film Festival, but more importantly The Sketchbook Project Tour 2012 at Canada Water Library.

I submitted my own book for the 2011 Tour(which you can see here), and was excited to see earlier this year that the American founders of SBP were bringing the project overseas to the UK and Australia!

The project involves one 5x7inch moleskin book sent to any participating person which must be returned to the Brooklyn group Art House the same size(but any depth).

My friend and I stayed in the library for over two hours, checking out a couple of books at a time. We were soon totally engrossed in the process. When we arrived there were no more than 6 of us, but as we left there must have been a good 20 people either sat turning pages or queuing for more books.

So here, in a random order are some highlights, with blogs or digitized booked linked. Apologies for any names missed or wrongly labelled.

Picures of book on her Tumblr here

 Artist forgotten.

Artist forgotten.
Beautiful book of illustrations.

The above book was by Sarah Duke, Australia.

 Fabric book by Beth Sutherland

More fabric and stitches by jazhandmade

Shades of grey, Artist unknown/forgotten. The book has burn holes through the book, with small black and white beautiful illustrations

 Southamptoner, Matt Robinson. Beautiful colours and pointalism.

Beautiful sketches, artist forgotten. I loved the house illustration.

Stitched pages which folded out. The pages has delicate colours and wording along the bottom of all the pages.

Pages by Dollo. Stunning illustrations that left us gobsmacked at the detail. 
I insist that you look at all the other pages here.

I loved the colour in the top image, and the simplicity and the space on the Rainy Day in Town image. By Claudia Hemmings

Forgotten the artist, but I loved the contrast betwen this image, and the more traditional drawing like Claudia Hemmings.

A book where the pages seemed to have been laminated. Very odd, but this page amused me and I liked the colours pallet.

 Great illustrator Jesper van Loenen from Netherlands with lots of various illustrations which were detailed, amusing and engaging. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

In The Thick if It

At the start of the month , I spent two days volunteering with Winchester Discovery Centre helping with the set up of the latest show- In The Thick of It. The artist, Laura Ellen Bacon, is a sculpture who uses willow to create giant pieces. 

"My large-scale installations are almost always built on site, allowing me to form my work in a way that truly fits a site."

Alongside 5-6 other volunteers, I helped to prepare large amounts of birch branches before transferring them to the Discovery Centre. On the second day of helping, we started to form the structures with guidance from Laura. The experience was intimate and yet relaxed as we worked three metre high birch branches into oak trunks which formed the start of three last structures that now stand in the gallery space.

See pictures of the installation here.
 But here is where you will find visitor info.

Over the two week installation, there were a total of 15 volunteers who helped the project along. Read the Volunteer's Feedback about the experience.

I haven't been able to visit the finished piece of art, which opened to the public on the 12th October, but the exhibition is open until 6th January and is expected to grow through the months that it is installed on site.

I will upload my own photos as soon as I have visited!!

In The Thick Of It Exhibition Info

Busy Bee

I have been quiet recently as I have been helping out in a local school with art classes. I am spending a bit of time working on activities for them. So far we have covered Andy Warhol, bunting and building rockets from nets!!

Body Reading

If you have any interest in Body Image or are self-conscious of your body in any way or form, I'd recommend looking at asking Santa nicely for this for Christmas:

Body Gossip, who I have blogged about before here, are fabulous campaigners who collect stories and share their experiences to encourage others to help with body confidence. Both of the co-founders are worth following on Twitter too as they are lovely and quite amusing too!

I haven't ordered my book yet, but have asked Santa very nicely.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Anatomy of a Woman

Heated discussions erupted last week after American politician Todd Akin made a speech where he stated "If it is legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down". This man clearly doesn't understand the workings of the human body,  and if he cannot understand the basics that are taught in schools, why is he running to be a Republican senate in Missouri?

 He isn't the only man to be wrong about the workings of the female body, as this simple illustration shows (found via Twitter). Noteworthy quotes are DR. Robert Dobbins who states that 'women are not fertile during assault...' and  DR. John Willke who believes that women cannot become pregnant after rape because the '..tubes are spastic'. Where do these men get their qualifications? Why are they allowed to practice?

Thursday, 9 August 2012


I thought I ought to update those interesting in The Patch Project. It has been a quiet couple of months since I took it up to Birmingham as I have taken time to do a few personal bits and bobs, including the opening of my Etsy shop and exploring dressmaking (see previous blogs). Despite my energies to try and promote and discuss positive body image, I have been very conscious of my weight and size over the last couple of months. All it took was a pair of jeans and shorts that had a tighter fit than usual and I have been wary of how well I eat and how little I am currently exercising. However, I have realised that my body is fine and overcoming silly niggling worries.

There are developments with the project, but significantly, the outcome will still be a quilt with a possibility of another form too.

Bed Sheet Skirt

Following the success and creativity of my last post, where I made a dress out of a bedsheet, today I completed my next small task- a fitted skirt. 

This took a matter of hours, starting at about 9am this morning and completing it before 3pm with very little distractions along the way. Apologies for the quality of the photos as these were taken on my mobile rather than Digital SLR. I also haven't finished the hem as it is only a practice piece.

The McCalls pattern. I made the grey skirt at the front (minus the belt)

The bedsheet skirt. The hem has not been finished yet as I have not decided on the length.
  The back- 7inch zip, darts and a missing hook and loop which would be sewn about the zip to secure the skirt.
Left side of the front- Darts, side seam and waistband.

After the success of both, I am hoping to make myself a dress and skirt in the coming weeks, as well as try my luck at shirts and playing with different collar finishes. Yesterday I purchased some fabric to make a dress, so imagine the dress below made out of the tan coloured bird and polka dot fabric! I will more than likely change the collar on the dress, I just haven't decided what to yet!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Olympian Ladies

I am not a fan of sports, constantly moaning at the mention of another football game or horse racing on the tv. However, the Olympics has provided me with good background noise and distraction from real life as well as a fascinating insight into sports that I have never really thought about.
The first women to take part in the Olympics was in Paris 1900, where they were able to take part in events such as Lawn Tennis, Croquet, Equestrian, Yatching and Golf. London 2012 has added women's Boxing, which has meant that there is no sport in the Olympics which doesn't have a women's event. Women certainly have advanced themselves in the sporting world in the last 100 years.

The talking point of this year for Team GB, and maybe the whole competition, has to be the female competitors. Not only did GB win a string of rowing medals, with Helen and Heather taking the first gold for GB in their rowing event, but Jessica Ennis last night made a unique and inspiring win for her career, for Britain and for women. Ennis couldn't take park in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 due to injury and she has trained hard in the last four years to make sure that she could take part in the heptathlon on home turf. Her determination, cool head and her amazing talent took her to gold from the first couple of events and made her almost unstoppable as she entered the final 800m run that made her Olympic Champion. There is no doubt that she is the champion of the GB team.

Heptathlon Team GB (L-R): Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Gold Medalist Jessica Ennis and Louise Hazel.

 During the week, after our women were bringing in the medals thick and fast, Denise Lewis was being interviewed on the BBC about some of the events. She made a great point that this Olympics has shown that women are making an impact as much as the men and we need to have a separate category for them at the Sports Personality of the Year Award. Her outbust came after no women were in the final ten nominees of the award in 2011, which resulted in a lot of criticism and debate about allowing women their own category or even having a minimum requirement for female nominees. Up to the point of posting this, women hold 13 of the 37 medals won for Great Britain so far, which surely shows that we need a bigger representation in the award if women are able to be so successful against the men. Some of the women are new to the Olympics and have competed to outstanding levels such as Ennis and her fellow Heptathlon younger teammate Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

I was astonished to hear during the opening ceremony that this is the first Olympics in history to have a woman in all of the 204 participating countries. This week saw the first female competitors for Saudi Arabia- Wojdan Shahrkhani(Judo) and American-born Sarah Attar (800m). These women were only allowed to participate provided that they wore Islamic clothing to respect their culture. People from Saudi are still split about the move to allow women to participate, some arguing that the women might be inspired by Western cultures and expose their bodies. For Shahrkhani, the International Olympic Committee allowed her to wear a special headscarf so that she could remain faithful to her culture as well as participate safely. This participation from women is a great step for a country that is still very much behind in terms of freedom for women.

Shahrkhani and Attar with their teammates at the opening Ceremony. Image BBC

Well done Internation Olympic Committee for representing the women of the sporting world, but more importantly, well done to all the women taking part in what seems to be a spectacular year.

Vintage Duvet Dress

One of my goals for a long long long time has been to do some dressmaking, and beef up some more sewing skills. With recent inspiration and admiration for fellow graduates Andrea Bonnell and Sam Budgen (ladies who invited me to Birmingham), I was set to start cutting and stitching away. 

 From the selection of dresses, I chose View 3- the sleeveless option. There is also a zip on the back, which I had not realised at first.

The pattern I chose was most like the type of dresses that I wear and was part of a large donation to my textile resources given to me last year from a family friend. I wanted to make something that would be of use to me(dresses are a high priority in my wardrobe), and with a lack of income and eagerness to learn new talents this weekend was the perfect opportunity. What was a great use also, was a lot of old bed sheets that were close to being thrown out which I cunningly saved to use as scraps. So my choice of fabric for my first attempt at a dress is a very old, slightly stenchy old duvet cover. Perfect for any mistakes and drawing all over the fabric.

So yesterday afternoon, I shoved on the Olympics in the background and got pinning, marking, cutting, stitching and altering.

 The Dress

Noteworthy points about the dress:

1) The dress is sleeveless, however the armhole facing had not been ironed down by this point which is why it sticks out on my right arm in the picture above. However, this happy accident looks kinda fab in a nice frilly shoulder detail and shall be adapted for any future creation!
2) The hem on the dress is very poorly and quickly stitched after being taken up about 7 inches from the original length.
3) I had no interfacing to hand without going out and buying some which would have made the dress better quality finish.
4) I hate doing zips. For this dress, I tacked the zip on and machine stitched it. I need more practice with zips.
5) For this dress, I would need to add a nice hook or button at the top of the zip to close the dress.
6) After first trying on the dress, I took up the length and also took it in at the waist by an inch on each side and also gave it more shape so that it fitted by body better (See pictures above).
7) I want to change the shape of the bottom of the dress and bring it in a little tighter 
8) It is a bloody good first attempt at dressmaking and I am beyond proud of myself!

 The details of the sleeveless dress and the collar of the dress.

Close up of the armhole facing (which should be hidden in the inside of the dress) which when hanging out of the dress doesn't look bad (provided I neaten it up)

Sexy paisley brown print, and the sleeveless shoulder.

The back with the zip. A hook/clasp/button is required at the top.

Whilst I am immensely proud of this dress, the finish isn't 100% and the fabric is a bit worn in places and has an old odour about it. I might trying dying it, but otherwise it will be hanging in my wardrobe to remind myself that I don't need to hit the high street to treat myself a new outfit.