Saturday, 30 June 2012

#Closer

My attitude towards women's magazines changed a couple of years ago. I was scanning through a magazine my sister had left about the house when one particular article offended me. The article was suggesting tanning products that you could use, however the blurb that was written for the piece suggested that being pale for summer was not socially acceptable. As someone who wears little makeup and does not see the point of tanning products, especially when we all know how fake and dodgy some tans look (reference: Snog Marry Avoid), I was fairly offended that they were suggesting I would be a social outcast for not using these products.


 I write this after as I was informed how Photoshopped some celebrity pictures are in the magazines, such as when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were first 'dating'. There were no photographic evidence, however magazines were creating their own images of the pair together, by digitally imposing one of them next to the other. Shameful and disgusting.

Guardian journalist,Julian Norman has written an insight into her response to the trashy weekly magazines that are infested with absurd articles. It is so good to be able to read someone's analysis and relate to the analysis as I have recognised the points that she raises for many years. On a rainy afternoon, Julian read a discarded magazine whilst traveling on a bus and her analysis of the magazines are an interesting insight, especially if you have never considered what you are actually reading.

" Almost all of the stories could be boiled down to 140 characters, so I began to tweet it with the hashtag #Closer. Kerry is a size 10–12 and so she had weight loss surgery. Now she's "ecstatic with her new body" was a typical tweet. Taken together, they are a fabulous collection of absurdism. "

An interesting observation Julian made is that the articles in the magazines "can be categorised into roughly three groups: bodies, food and relationships." This I was familiar with, as More! describes itself as a magazine about 'men, sex and relationships' with a bit of fashion on the side too.

"In bodies, we learn that the ideal size to be is an 8. Women who fall below that size are said to be "gaunt", and are usually mourning the end of a relationship. A 10 is acceptable but usually prefaced with the word "curvy", as in "Amelia is a curvy size 10." " These magazines criticise female celebrities, down to the smallest strechmark, spot or sweat patch. To be in the spotlight is to make yourself vulnerable to these magazines and newspapers.


"Bodies intersect neatly with food. Carbohydrates are generally considered a bad thing..." is one thing, and then there is the inevitability that a woman gets pregnant. "We're told approvingly that one woman was back to a size 6 two weeks after the birth. Women who don't lose the weight quickly will "admit" to losing it slowly, and again these horrible "pals" will be quoted saying that the woman in question is distraught by the weight and hint darkly at depression. With friends like that, eh?"
The magazines that line our shelves are bitchier than what we realise and may even subtly enforce paranoia about the way we present ourselves, what we eat and other socially unacceptable behaviour.

Go read the article. It is a great analysis of the magazines that line the shelves in newsagents, supermarkets and corner shops that we often pick up on a whim and become trash within hours. And one final noteworthy point from Julian;

"How is any woman supposed to love her body (as the advice columns tell her to) when she's just read 90 pages about how women thinner than her cry themselves to sleep over their disgusting, flabby, fat figures? "

Links
Julian Norman on Twitter
Other Magazine Related Blogs by myself including women portrayal and their content.

Skinny Girls Don't Have OOMPH!!


Found through a link on Twitter, some vintage posters that encourage women to have a bit of weight on them. I find them very fascinating, especially their tag lines. Advertising is so cunningly encouraging of their products and these are such a rarity in our culture where they are encouraging weight gain when we are obsessed with being too obese/fat/overweight.








Five Minutes With...

... Grayson Perry. The artist, who had a show up in London at the beginning of this year which I am gutted to have missed, talks to Matthew Stadlen about his art and wearing women's clothes.

Image from Guardian.


Links
Five Minutes With... BBC Video Interview

We Are Still Fighting

Sometimes you have an idea floating in your head that you want to create. It took me months to channel an idea that I had, based on an iconic image from the magazine of the Suffragette movement, The Suffragettes, by Christine Pankhurst.
What made this piece unique from most other pieces I create, is that this was all handmade (excluding the printout image). Letters were hand stitched on, as was the banner whilst the title 'Women' was painted on in fabric paints.


The fabric I used was donated to me, and was part of a set of fabric that was to be used for dressmaking, hence the shaping at the top of the piece.



Spontaneous make last week before taking it up to Birmingham this week. Feedback very welcome!!

Their Birmingham

 Alongside my work, were lots of other brilliant creatives!
Firstly, Grandma Chic.

Grandma Chic Folksy
Her stall where her garments were available to try on and purchase. A collection of her work was also modeled (to a FAB choice of music including Fat Domino) and a couple of models even bought the garments they wore! Success!



Textile Designer, Giovanna De Gregorio
Giovanna's Homepage




Also, Check out the amazing work of Andrea Bonnell, who showcased her collection of carefully tailore garments on the catwalk too, however I was modeling and was unable to get photos.
Here is a quick snapshot of her work which can also be found on her blog.
Images by Alick Cotterill.




Well done everyone involved and thanks to everyone who took part or came to cheer us on! When we finished, there was a general consensus from the fashion designers that this evening was better than their degree show as they were able to showcase their work how they wanted and there was just a much better atmosphere too!

 Lots of photos coming through on Facebook and hoping to get them added to a group on Flickr. Watch out for news on that front.

My Birmingham

My trip and exhibition in Birmingham was a success in many ways.
There was a good crowd of people who attended which created a great atmosphere which was enhanced by some of the ladies who modeled! The space I had was an unused warehouse room, which was quite fitting with my work which has a raw quality as I have a tenancy to let threads hang loose and edges to fray. In the space, I set up three collections of work: Scurrilous Boat, The Patch Project and Miscellaneous Pieces.
 
Scurrilous Boat, 2010. An exploration of domestic abuse.
 
 Miscellaneous Bits that have come out for the day!

 
 
 For the Patch Project, I set up a table so that people were able to add their own submission to the project. On the night, I got a handful of submissions and caught a few people looking through the collection of patches that had been hung from a coat stand that we had discovered in the room.
 I think that the pieces would have been better off elsewhere as they were low, and had Giovanna's work backing onto it and distracted from them- doh!
 
The table set up, plus a friendly picture of me and 'business cards' labels.


 Table with submissions





The messy looking arrangement- doh! But it was an awesome piece of furniture to have discovered.

Pictures of other peoples work to be blogged seperately.
To view my portfolio of work, click here.

Grab Your Squeegee

I was lucky to have screenprinting facilities at my university that I could use, however I always have regretted not making use of the facilities whilst I was there. Since university I have collected many print making books and have even tried screen printing using an embroidery hoop and an old pair of tights.

 The Guardian have got a great and simple tutorial for screenprinting at home, at an affordable price too! I think that all creatives should try every process at least once and never dismiss a technique available to them!

Screen Printing at Home Made Easy
Image: Lee May Foster


Links
How To Screenprint from Lee May Foster at the Guardian
Lee May Foster's Online Shop

Friday, 29 June 2012

Post-Show Preview

Wednesday I traveled up to Birmingham for a chance to exhibit some work thanks to Sam Budgen and Andrea Bonnell who were putting on a fashion show.


 The night was very successful, with lots of people watching the bands and fashion show. What was great was the success that we had with the art space in the unused warehouse(possibly old printing space).

 Here is a sneaky photo of the space we had for three of us to show off our pieces. When we first arrived, this room was full of junk and we had to clear out as much of it as we could, and even created a TV display to one side to distract from the piles of crap behind it. More pictures to come over the weekend.





Thursday, 28 June 2012

Choose Not To Be A Lady

Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women."
Nora Ephron - Feminist and Screenwriter who died earlier this week.

Monday, 18 June 2012

We Are Still. Fanny. In the Making.

A work in progress, and an idea that has been brewing for months. Whilst it may still be incomplete, I am hoping to have it finished for my exhibition if there is space for other bits of work.. Watch this space...

 
Another piece of work that is also in the making is a completely separate item, which contains one of my favourite words,see below. All will be revealed with both pieces of work in the next few weeks. Very creative and exciting!


Saturday, 16 June 2012

Teeth and Masculinity

I have received new patches in the last week which I haven't had a chance to share. But with The Patch Project's first outing in less than two weeks, here are just a small snippet of the most recent patches I have sent.

 First patch from a man!

A patch from a lovely woman, who also wrote me a darling letter in support of the project!
See the patches in full-with their story too- on the 27th! 

Links
The Patch Project Facebook Page (Go like!)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Patch on Tour 2

I am currently finishing off the plans for the installation of my work in Birmingham. I will have two separate pieces of work on display; Scurrilous Boat as well as the current live project The Patch Project.

Without revealing too much, The Patch Project will be a unique chance to engage with the patches made and stories shared thus far, as well as a chance for visitors to contribute their story on the night.

If you want to share your story, send me your loves,hates or experiences to me asap on the back of a 4 or 8 inch bit of paper, or even email me your words.
Every story I recieve by Monday 25th June by post or email will be included!

Links
The Patch Project blog updates

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Southampton Open Studios

Visual artists based in Southampton will be opening their studio doors for visitors at the end of the month. The Arches, Red Hot Press, Unit11studio and Tower House will be displaying artistic skills from printmaking, film, sculpture and textiles with some work availble to purchase.



Sunday 8th July will the conclude the open event, with demonstrations and 'have-a-go' taster sessions with The Arches and Red Hot Press. With Southampton being a city that I think is in need of a better artistic and creative culture, this is the perfect event to get involve with what is going on. The artists based in these locations are lovely and so very talented so if you are local, do go and say hello!!

Open Studios
30th June - 1st July & 7th - 8th July 12pm - 5pm

Wayzgoose Fete 8th July
12pm - 5pm at The Cattle Market.

See you there!

Links
Southampton Open Studios details at City Eye
More details from Red Hot Press

Creative Olympics

Yesterday details were revealed of the opening ceremony for the Olympic 2012 games in London. Film director, Danny Boyle, has been hired as artistic director for the project which involves countryside scenery, farm animals, a village green with a cricket game as well as a replica of Glastonbury Tor.


The ceremony, which has music created specifically by Underworld, will also feature "real clouds that will be hanging over the stadium. Work that out if you can. We know we're an island culture and an island climate. One of these clouds will provide rain on the evening, just in case it doesn't rain."

I have found the reveal of the ceremony fascinating and creatively brilliant. I am not someone who is excited by the Olympics coming to London this year, but this particular event has me fascinated. The choice of bringing the countryside to London is brilliant, it brings together what makes Britian so unique and beautiful. I might be biased, being a farmers daughter, but I think people forget how much of Great Britain is farm land and how beautiful it is to drive through. A few months ago, I traveled from the south coast of England to the north coast of Wales, and the scenery in parts blew me away.Whilst the focus so far with the games has been about London and the Olympic Park, it is about time that we celebrate the places outside of London that people do not know enough about. I met someone from a London suburb a few years ago who had never seen a cow in person before.






Danny Boyle is bringing to light the parts of Britain that many people do not appreciate enough. Many farmers are struggling to manage through tough economical climates, with many dairy farmers closing every year, and it is key to try and support our country traders that have been going for generations. To bring the home nations together on the night, they will be each be 'represented by Maypoles topped with a thistle, a leek, a rose and flax.'

With time to collect newspaper and online comments from journalists and public alike, the BBC have written a follow up article which has gathered a lot of criticism for the ceremony. The Times, Daily Mail and Daily Express have all reported negative ascpects which I think is unfair. Whilst the country is growing with new airport terminals(Heathrow), wind turbines and infamous amount of queuing(be it in shops, in the car or at airport security), we are a nation of famers when you go out of the cities. Whilst another journalist, Grace Dent of the Independant, reported that Britain was "..teens drunk on cider, petrol vigilantes... that's the real countryside, Danny Boyle.." Yes our country has a booze obsession, an influx of teenage mothers and not to mention drugs, bin collections(lack of) and immigrant (surprised Daily Mail didn't pick up on that one). But let us focus on the positives shall we- whilst we are losing out our town highstreets to the big companies, and green spaces to gysies and new housing estates, we are still a great (dying breed) of farmers and country folk.
And to anyone who believes that it looks like where the Teletubbies live, please don't be so fickle. Green is the colour of our beautiful countryside.

 
Links
Opening Ceremony Details at BBC, including video.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Etsy

Coming soon!!
 
I am having my own Etsy shop, with a few handmade pieces using vintage fabric, buttons and lace that I have in my fabric collection. There will be little bits as well as some more creative larger items - Watch out for more details and launch soon!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Naked Pedal Power

Over 100 people in Southampton took part in the annual Naked Bike Ride last night, which I unfortunately was unable to make it to watch, let alone take part. The ride was used to protest against car culture and the vulnerability of cyclists. Cycle safety is something that I am personally concerned about, as someone who sees a lot of cyclists on my way to work, the majority of whom do not wear helmets.

The evening ride around town was naked in order to attract attention from passers by, with some people still clothed whilst others rode with messages painted across their bodies. I think this is a great and innocent way to protest, without harming anyone, as well as showing great body confidence from all involved. Looking at the Facebook event page, there were a few people who were new to cycling naked and embraced it enough to want to do it again soon. There are many more naked bike rides taking place around the UK, and maybe one day I might well be cycling naked near you.
 
Update: Guardian have a great gallery of images from the World Naked Bike Ride. Take a looksie at rides from San Fran, Mexico and Greece!

 Pictures and Video from the event.



Links
Cyclists Attend Naked Ride Photo Gallery at Cozycot

I Choose Shameless

Jezabel publish some great articles, some more serious then others. But today I have come across an article discussing the male perspective on body image through using a photo shoot to help with body confidence.

'A significant part of the problem Stashko describes isn't just the absence of resources directed at men battling anorexia or bulimia. It's that our images of male beauty and desirability are in some ways even more limited and unattainable than those offered to women. While we assume men are allowed greater leeway to be physically imperfect, how often do we see shirtless male models that are anything but perfectly ripped? As the fashion industry moves tentatively towards promoting a wider (and perhaps healthier) size continuum for female models, a soft body is still anathema for men in fashion. The tyranny of the six-pack is absolute.'

After attending a Body Gossip session on Southampton University campus last month, there was mention of what men have to deal with. One female said that men do not have to deal with as much as women, to which I (silently) disagreed. Men are as self conscious as women, however there is a wider market of products aimed specifically to help women change or alter the way they look. Whilst there are also products and adverts for men to aid their looks, men do not openly discuss their worries as much as women might do. I know a few male friends who have shared their worries with me and yet as they have done so, it has been reservedly.

'The same week that both Stashko's piece and the GQ story on D'Angelo's struggle with an eating disorder appeared, the new editor-in-chief of the Good Men Project, Noah Brand posed fully nude in what he called "a direct confrontation with body shame." Brand, who describes himself as "just over the line where ‘overweight' turns into ‘obese'," said the experience of going full frontal in his own magazine was "intensely liberating." '



Noah posed naked, and felt liberated. Having seen naturist documentaries and various makeover programs featuring a strip down to help accept peoples own bodies, I totally understand the need and success of naked body shoots. Being naked, especially in front of a camera, can either make you do two things: cover up and shy away from your body or embrace letting it all hang out. Why shouldn't we all enjoy ourselves naked? Being naked helps us see and understand the shape of our bodies. We are born naked, and many moons ago, we walked around naked, there are even cultures in the world today in which the body stays uncovered.

'...it's clear that GMP's chief sees posing nude as a viable strategy for overcoming self-loathing. "I honestly think more men should do this," Brand writes.'

Good for Noah doing something to help with his own body confidence. The article is worth a read, with the writer debating if it is the right way for men to tackle body confidence, also discussing the first Plus-Size model at Australian model agency BGM.

Links
I'm Stark Naked- Deal With it. Good Men Magazine article

Patch on Tour

At the end of the month, I am off to Birmingham, where I have a space to exhibit some work(See blog post). Alongside Scurrilous Boat and some smaller works, I am taking The Patch Project with me!

The Patch Project requires women and men, to submit a 4inch fabric patch expressing an experience, thought or story of their own body. Whether it is about a part you love or hate, I want to collect your story and collate them together into a quilt of body issues. If you aren't feeling creative enough to make a 4inch patch(see brief below), then post or email your story to me. 

Send your patch and/or story in to me asap and your story will be seen at the exhibition in Birmingham on June 27th by many others! 


Links
Download the Brief at Jenniferbabey.co.uk

Monday, 4 June 2012

Dressmaking

At the weekend, I participated in small clothes swap with a couple of friends to great success. I managed to get rid of a hand full of clothes and gained a number of items from a woolly jumper, bracelets and a couple of dresses. With money tight at the moment, it was a brilliant way to gain new clothes as no cost! A few of the clothes I received require changing - better buttons, hemline and cutting up from a jumper to a cardigan!

Dress I acquired in the swap. Left: before, Right: After making changes including changing the hem line, the neckline and mending holes.

I have recently purchased a dressmaking book to help me develop my sewing skills as much as possible and have put my skills to good use to change the neck line as well as bring up the hem line. The creativity has made me cautious at each step especially as I changed the neckline on the floral dress but I am very happy with the results.