I know it’s been an unfeasibly long time since my last post, for which I make zero apologies. It’s partly because I’ve not had a proper computer (and updating the site on a phone is a bloody nightmare) and partly just because I’ve been focusing on making things rather than promoting them (as well as working non-art jobs).
But now there are exciting things that I need to tell you all about.
Firstly I am part of an exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester called ‘Continuum: Framing Trans Lives in 21st Century Britain‘. It is an exhibition of around 15 trans and non binary artists from across the UK which will be running until the start of september, and is organised by Artmob, a new collective supporting and promoting trans artists. I have done some sculptural pieces based on my Man Cunt paintings, but they have sprouted animal body parts like mythical chimeric beasts. I haven’t had a chance to see the work up as I couldn’t make the opening last week, but I’m going to be heading down there this weekend for a Meet The Artists event, where you’ll be able to hear me along with other trans artists talking about our work.
This is an installation which I am facilitating as part of the Trans/Forms exhibition of transgender artists at Hamilton House, to mark Transgender day of Remembrance which takes place every year on November 20th. Visitors are invited to write the name of a transgender person who lost their lives through transphobic violence and add it to the piece. Through this I hope to give people a way to honour those departed as well as to encourage people who may not know much about the issues affecting transgender people to engage with the issue of transphobic violence.
Here is what I wrote about it for the exhibition:
Transgender day of remembrance is held on November 20th every year. On this day across the world people hold vigils and memoral ceremonies for transgender people who have lost their lives through transphobic violence in the last year. As part of this a list of names is compiled, using news sources from around the world. This year the number of names is 271, with most being trans people of colour.
I invite you to partake in helping create a memorial to these 271 individuals, as well as those who are unnamed who’s deaths were never reported, those who’s trans identity was erased after their death and those who took their own lives.
It was the opening night of the Trans/Forms exhibition last night, and what a wonderful night it was! We had intense and beautiful live art from Raju Rage and exciting and celebratory drumming from Afon Sistema, which took us out of the gallery and through to the canteen to entertain unsuspecting punters. The co-created memorial for transgender day of remembrance had a good start on it, and is looking really beautiful. It’s great to see my Man Cunt paintings framed and on the wall for the first time,
and I was very excited to see Ludo Foster’s beautiful, subtle drawings and Rachel Green’s bright and bold sculptures alongside each other. Altogether it’s so great to see such an eclectic mix of amazing work by trans people altogether in one place!
I’m so grateful to all the people who believed in the project and supported
it, and I’m so happy that we were able to manifest such a powerful and beautiful thing. Thank you to all the artists for being willing to show themselves through their work, to CoResist who I worked in collaboration and who worked out a lot of the practical stuff, to the coexist gallery managers for being so accommodating, and to my friends and housemates for putting up with me for the last week.
This is the first time I’ve done something like this and I’ve certainly learnt a lot, there are a lot of things I’d do differently at future events. I’m very open to feedback, it would be really great if people could let me know what they think works/worked well and what could be improved and I’ll strive to accept feedback with grace and not take it personally (unless it’s from someone being transphobic in which case they can fuck right off).
Buy tickets for the fundraiser on the 13th here or at the Hamilton House reception
For more information visit the Trans/Forms facebook page or find us on Twitter @TransFormsBrist
Friday November 13th will see the launch of a series art, performance and music events over 10 days at Hamilton House in the run up to Transgender day of remembrance, now in it’s 18th year, with 8 groups and individual artists coming from across the UK.
My motivation behind the Trans/Forms project is to create space for artists who identify as transgender to represent themselves and explore new narratives of gender and identity. I wanted to do this because I feel trans people within mainstream media are generally treated as stereotypes and cliches, with the same limited narrative being repeated and rehashed over and over.
The IndieGoGo campaign I created to fund the production of prints of my new paintings reached it’s target on Sunday! Thank you so much to those who contributed, and if you missed out they will be available for purchase through my website in the next few months. Watch this space!
Transgender day of remembrance is an event that is commemorated on November 20th to remember those who have lost their lives due to transphobic violence around the world. Through this day we remember those who have been lost to violence, as well as raise awareness of the struggles that many trans* people face because of their gender identity and expression. One of the main features of these events is called the Reading of the Names, in which the names of those who have lost their lives are read out so they can each be honoured.
I know I’ve been very quiet on here for a while now, I’ve been doing lots of things and I’m planning a post taking about them all but I wanted to share this one now. I post more frequently on my Facebook page, follow me there to see what I’m up to day to day!
New painting! This is the first in what I’m hoping will be an ongoing project: the subject is a friend of mine who is transgender, after interviewing him about his relationship with his body I translated these thoughts and feelings into a body painting, and used photos from that as the basis for this painting. He was just about to have his mastectomy when I took the pictures, and I’ll do the same process in a month or so once he’s healed to make a dyptic.
My intention with this series is to explore a way to document and express people’s experience of being transgender/transsexual. Very often the focus is on appearance and aesthetics, with a focus on how well they “pass”. I’m trying to move beyond this, with expressive paintings with elements of abstraction, using the body itself as a canvas to speak about itself.
Often trans people feel like our bodies are our enemies – not all trans people experience physical dysphoria, but for those who do it can be overwhelming and affect everything about how they exist in the world. When we are able to take control of our bodies, whether through hormones/surgery or simply by how we present ourselves, we are able to come to peace and to flourish.
I I have purposely chosen to focus on my subject’s current experience rather than their history, so creating a snapshot in time. I feel like very often trans people are defined more by our history than our present; the questions people want to ask are about when we first knew, how our parents reacted etc. To me these questions are incredibly dull and don’t really communicate much about what it means to live one’s life as a trans person, especially for someone who came out and transitioned a long time ago.
Hopefully I’ll be doing more of these, so do watch this space, and get in touch if you’re trans and you’d like to be a model
These aren’t great pictures, but I wanted to share what I’ve been doing and it might be a while before I can get descent scans. I’ve still been painting in acrylic on canvases, but I’ve been doing abstract monochrome/duochrome paintings. These are the first two I’ve finished that I’m really pleased with. My focus is on flow and shape, creating a feeling of organic movement across the canvas, building up layers with a roller to get texture and depth. I’m really loving doing abstract painting, it feels so liberating to not be constrained by representation. It feels more like dance, focusing on the form and the composition and seeing how the shapes want to flow around and across the canvas. It also feels like it matches my new year’s resolution to not attempt to be an art business or to sell my work, or at least not do it in a way that puts pressure on me to produce work in a certain way. I was a bit worried that doing these paintings would “confuse the brand”, but now I know that I’m *not* a brand, I’m an artist, and if I want to produce good work I need to follow my own flow without putting perimeters onto it. I want to just play, to focus on creating and to see where my work takes me. This new style of painting feels very apt for this!
I’ve also found myself thinking about abstraction, and what it means for these pictures. There’s part of me that really resents the idea of people trying to see anything pictorial in them, although I know I have no control over this. I definitely have no desire to give them names that might even hint at an idea or an atmosphere. As far as I’m concerned a name or an image or an idea that there is an idea outside of the piece which it is representing would distract from it. They are flowing lines and shapes, and the relationship that each person who encounters them has with them is their own.
This is a fascinating video, I listened to it while oscillating between thinking they were being old curmudgeons and that they were getting it bang on. I think it’s a little of both, and I also think it’s just what I needed to hear right now. Even if these new upstarts aren’t destroying art and painting I’m definitely feeling more aligned to the attitude these four have!