I hope you had a lovely Easter break (if you did get one). I was lucky enough to be able to spend the whole weekend doing things I love: sharing with my family and friends, cooking, and drawing! It was a much needed break after my hectic Adelaide Fringe Festival schedule.
This month is an exciting one as I have launched my new series – The Perfect Form! The aim is to celebrate the female form without over sexualising or glamourising it – lumps, bumps and stretch marks included! Every day I illustrate a real life woman in all of her glory. The project is being published to my Instagram page. I was inspired to create this project after experiencing firsthand the stigma that surrounds nudity when promoting my show Naked Girls Reading during the Fringe. Whilst the show appeals to both men and women (and those in between) I’ve always found that women tend to enjoy the show more because it is not very often that we get to see other women with all of their stretch marks and jiggly bits on display. My good friend Tracy wrote a lovely review which I think sums up perfectly what I hope the show can be:
“how often do we as women actually get to see other women’s bodies in all their naked, non-airbrushed glory? These women are so comfortable in their own skin, and really model what it is to accept your body and celebrate the infinite variety it comes in. And while one recent male reviewer might not consider that “a revolutionary act” worthy of 5 stars… to this woman, sitting there seeing these funny, witty, beautiful women display a self confidence that I have always dreamed of, a minor revolution did take place. I left feeling emboldened… not enough to strip naked in front of a crowd, of course, but enough to stand naked in front of a mirror and feel damn good about myself and the world…. And that, my friends, is worth every star in the night sky!”
I spent most nights of the Fringe handing out flyers for the show and would almost always hand them to women, but so much of the time the women would take one look at the flyer and then hand it to their male partners, saying something like “oh this one’s for you”. I would do my best to tell them about why women enjoy the show but they often remained skeptical. I was quite shocked by the many knee jerk reactions to looking at other women naked as almost repulsive…something that can only be enjoyed by men (who were often treated by their partners as interested in one thing…T&A with no concept that maybe they would enjoy the reading too?). When you boil this down I think it really shows how much nudity is sexualised – of course you would only look at a naked body if you wanted to have sex with it….I guess? When you think about the amount of time we spend in our bodies not having sex (just me..anyone? Parent life amirite? 🤣) this sexualisation of our bodies just seems ludicrous to me. I don’t wish to take away the erotic and sexual experience viewing a naked body can be, but that’s not all it can be. So after having this kind of exchange in a myriad of ways I did what I often do when processing things, I started drawing, and so the project was born.
After doing a call out for submissions I started receiving them from women all over the world, and many of them shared small parts of their stories with me. Some of them feel powerful in their bodies and others feel betrayed and defeated. Many of them were incredibly nervous about taking nude pictures of themselves – some said they do not even look at themselves naked in the mirror. I cried many times on receiving photos from these women, they are so beautiful, vulnerable and strong. I feel incredibly honoured that they have trusted me to be a part of this project.
One of the limitations of the project is the number of diverse submissions I have received. It has become ever more apparent to me how much of a bubble I live in. I tend to draw what I know (often myself), so I see that reflected in those who enjoy my work and take part in it. It has highlighted to me that I need to continually work on showing diverse bodies in my art. It is still early in the month so I still have spaces available for women who would like to take part, specifically women of colour, women living with a disability and trans women. If that is you please get in touch! You can email me email@example.com.
I am very excited to see this project unfold. It has been such a pleasure to work on so far. I am interested in the future to do this project again but with men’s bodies. I need to have a think about how best to do this though as I am a bit hesitant to open up my inbox to strange men sending me nude photos. I already get a bit of harassment in my inbox and unwanted pics as it is 😕 But I know a lot of wonderful men who I think would be perfect for the project so I definitely haven’t ruled it out completely.
Have a lovely day and see you soon!