Manchester Science Festival 2016.

On Saturday I helped with a monoprinting workshop as part of Manchester Science Festival 2016. We used monoprinting to engage with young people and tell them about the Peppered Moth. It was a lovely experienced and helped me reflect on my own rigid approach to monoprinting and image making. It has been a long time since I practiced monoprinting and at first I was so uptight thinking of the outcome. I felt my images were stiff and lifeless. The children delivered loose and carefree images that automatically give them character and charm. This particular kind of image making was effective because it is so simple and quick it enabled the children to be prolific and kept them fully engaged. Some sat with us for at least half an hour without getting bored.

Around the pitch there were other science based activities including robot poetry, where a computer programme read back the children’s writing to them in a robot voice; a mini exhibition of images depicting what the children thought a scientist looked like; a circuit building workshop; and a range of interactive cards that became 3d when scanned through an image app. The day was a success with 134 children engaging with us about science through art. I will sign off with the poem written by scientist Sam Illingworth:

Arising from our ashen pit of toil,

As forge and mill did shape this unkempt land;

The blackness of the trees from coal and oil,

Contrasted with the skin nature had planned.

A single, fragile pearl encased in jet,

Your pallor marked you out for all to see;

In contrast to our progress, blood and sweat,

Your population had no industry.

And then from deep within you came a switch,

We came across your shadow in the sky;

Your alabaster pelt had turned to pitch,

Forced to adapt so that you would not die.

I wonder if we ever get it right,

Will you turn back from darkness into light?

Sam is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at MMU and a Poet.

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Design Forum Wales Blog. Where Are the Women?

As I haven’t heard in a while, I checked with Dee and Victoria about the blog post we were putting together. There were concerns about the sources of the statistics. They were taken from a video of a panel at Designer Breakfasts holding a discussion called Where are All the Women?: ttp://www.designerbreakfasts.co.uk/?pid=p_past&ev=20120320

http://www.designwalesforum.org/blog/item/id/where-are-the-women

The blog has now been published:

http://www.designwalesforum.org/blog/item/id/where-are-the-women

Degree Show Idea

For my degree show I am thinking of creating more of an interactive space rather than an exhibition space. I have found with my work, people don’t want to talk in public or with an audience about it; but they want to talk about it. I have a Facebook page that I upload all of my images to and I have found that there was a lot more engagement  with images that looked ‘prettier’ but served no purpose. Now I am raising awareness on sexism and promoting feminism, I find a lot of women will say things like ‘ I don’t understand the work’ or they don’t want to be associated with the word ‘Feminism’ or the classic ‘I’m not a feminist, but…’. I haven’t come across a woman who has said she has never experienced anything I have addressed. A few women have came to me and said they find it really important, they always stop and click on the image and read what is written with it and to keep on doing what I’m doing as someone should be sticking up for us. Men, however, they will always only speak to me on a one to one basis about it. A lot will say that they agree with it and they agree with equal rights but don’t actively push it; or they didn’t really recognise certain aspects that have become social norms until they saw my post. Others have said they like my work, it is (apparently) controversial, but they get it.

I am happy it has got people talking, but I still find it so strange that people seem to be afraid about saying how they feel about the issues infront of other people yet they all seem to be saying the same things. It reminds me of when I worked as a mobile hairdresser and people would tell me anything as I stood behind them and they couldn’t see me. They phrase ‘it’s a grey area’ has come up a lot. This annoys me. I can’t see any grey areas. If something is wrong, it is wrong. But hence the grey theme with my work and my hand in set up.

So for my degree show I want to make a life-sized cardboard cut out of the collaged girl from my piece 12 of the Everyday Sexism project. For this I am going to use my head as a child on the body. I want people to feel uncomfortable as they encounter the piece. Obviously, the breasts are visible on the girl which will make the viewer aware that they have looked at them and not know what to do or where to look. I want this to represent how I felt as a young girl when my body was changing beyond my control and received unwanted attention for it. I knew people were looking but I couldn’t stop them and I hated my body for it. I then want to invite the viewer to sit facing the wall and look through The Sexist’s Alphabet. I will start by writing an experience or story on the wall. I am going to leave marker pens out to invite the viewer to write their thoughts, experiences, views, dis/agreements anonymously. I want to get people thinking and communicating; even if this isn’t face to face. I will record the interactions either with permission by videoing or recording the writings with a camera and use this as material for my next awareness project.

Depending on money (seeing as I have had to have another print of my book made) I may build a booth to make it more private for people. This is an option, but I do like the visual idea of people’s stories overlapping as when you talk to people, their experiences overlap with similarities too.

I didn’t want to create an artist’s statement as such; I wanted to be more provocative with it. I don’t want to officially invite people to write and share their thoughts etc, I want to more provoke and prompt people. I want people to stop and think. I submitted:

 
girl, bird, bimbo, doll, tiny, fat, thigh gap, leggy, mouthy, bitch, slapper, whore, dirty

Attention seeker. What was she wearing?


milf, mutton, perfect, quiet, liar, princess, easy, frigid, tom-boy


Don’t breast feed in public. Show us your tits.


lady, meat, barren, selfish, spinster, crazy, mental, maternity risk, weight, weight, weight, cover up


Don’t leave your drink unattended. Don’t walk home alone.

Don’t wear that. Don’t say that. Don’t do that.


Don’t get raped


Don’t.

Cardiff Metropolitan Gender Equality Society

Last week I met with Christian and a number of students who are interested in the Gender Equality Society we are hoping to start up. We discussed small steps we could take and aims of the group. We are going to start small within the society but hopefully expand out to people outside of Cardiff Met. Aims we noted on the society forms were to offer a safe space for people to come together to discuss their worries, issues and share experiences; to help with any issues of discrimination due to gender; to work with the police on raising awareness on what is classed as sexual assault; to become involved in community gender equality issues, etc. We had to fill in the forms and present them to the SU. We have enough signatures to suggest sufficient interest for the society. The SU have contacted Christian asking how we plan to raise awareness of the society through the school. I have set up a facebook page for now, we will be setting up a twitter feed, we are hoping to use the tv’s in the SU to advertise and use my work to make posters. We want to make some ground on this so we can have a table at the freshers fair.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1404576199866621/?fref=ts  (link to the society group page)

At the moment, the name is too long winded, so we are going to brain storm something small and catching and work on a logo that we can start to disseminate around Cardiff that people will begin to recognise. We were thinking on stickers and stick them on whatever we can; toilet doors, lamposts, etc. Kind of grafiti… but for a good cause!

We plan to also not just meet in the SU, to start meeting in other places; like Little Man Coffee Company. Even though they didn’t think my work was appropriate for the walls, hopefully they will recognise the interest in the cause with the number of people we can generate to take part in meetings.

It’s been a long time in the making, but this will be an ongoing process; as will my involvement in the Sexual Wellbeing Foundation. I have been in contact with Olive, the founder, again and now her degree is over she is planning on pushing ahead with her charity work and she wants to talk to me over the coming week.

Also, now my book is finished and printed. I can contact Chris Green of the White Ribbon Campaign and show him the work. Hopefully, it can be used for their campaign.

Quick catch up summary.

I spent too much time chasing people and ideas to help with campaigns and charities that in the end, my image making had just ground to a halt. I had a tutorial with Amelia and she advised that I just stop chasig and start making images as all these things can continue after the degree but my degree has a deadline.

I gave up on emailing the police and went in and asked to speak to someone. The lady told me that if a sexual assault, anything you feel uncomfortable with happening, occurs then you would ring the non-emergency number; 101. There the police would take all of the details and investigate it like any other crime. She sisn’t understand why I had been passed from pillar to post when this would be the proceedure. She assured me that any incident would be taken seriously and go in whatever direction the victim wanted it to.

The charity communication has stopped for a couple of weeks as Olive and I are nearing deadline time and she has been having health troubles. I need to email the SU about the society as Christian has gone back home to visit family. Chris Green from White Ribbon never got back to me about the age range of the sexist alphabet book; so I have started it anyway aimed at adults. I have pestered Little Man Coffee company and they have just got back to me tonight saying my work isn’t really suitable, but they would like to meet with me next week. I have mentioned my alphabet work as it is more metaphorical rather than direct impact. I need to log back onto my uni email to see if my work has been used for the PDR equality within design blog. And I have had an email from a lady I met at the Millenium Centre workshop as she has mentioned progress with her non gender specific toy range buisness idea.

I had a tutorial with Nigel from print and he advised not to take my images to print as there would be nothing to gain from it. He suggested physically printing the components of my images and physically recreating them and I thought of maybe making them stand up and create them as a scene. I tried this but wasn’t happy with the results and abandoned the idea. I want to try a more metaphorical approach and make people think about what is going on and the meaning and leave the other images as they are. The images are direct which is the impact I want; so should be left as they are.

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Emails, Meetings, Ideas and Networking.

Today I met with a fellow Cardiff Met student who put a post on Cardiff Feminist Network group page on Facebook saying he was thinking of setting up a sexism awareness/ women’s society as Cardiff Met does not have one unlike Cardiff University and he was asking if anyone had any information or if they wanted to be involved. I contacted him asking him to meet so we could possibly start something up. We discussed how to go about setting up a society, how to generate interest and who we have ben in contact with so far. We need to generate interest from at least 10 students to be able to suggest starting up. I spoke of the society promoting equality rather than being gender specific and encouraging work from  both sides rather than creating a ‘X vs Y’. I plan to speak to my peeers and the rest of the course to get names and contact details, speak to the SU and come up with a plan of action. Christia has gone away to do more research and speak with his peers also and already reported his positive responses to the idea.

I am still waiting on a reply to the email I sent to Cardiff PCSO department about legalities and information on who to report incidences of sexual assault to. A friend who studies Journalism suggested contacting Gwent Police as they have a department that specialises in this area.

I received an email back from Chris Green of the White Ribbon Campaign. He said he is keen for me to help with illustration work to promote awareness and he has an idea for an alphabet book. I have given him my facebook page so he can have a look at my work and see if I can tailor it to the audience he is aiming the book at. I also told him about the society as it would be good to work in colaboration with them and Christian has been looking at the campaign and plans to contact them also.

I have recieved the brief to launch the new Sexual Wellbeing charity and we are waiting for people to report back when they are available for a group Skype meeting. I have sent my page over to Olive and she has said the work will suit and has asked if we could also speak seperately at some point over the week.

I have sent emails out to the lady I met at the workshop at the WMC who works for Equality and Human rights asking for legal information as I have an idea to create a ‘cocktale’ menu to put around bars in Cardiff, stating things that are actually illegal and consequences and inofrmation etc, in the style of a cocktail menu.

Tonight I visited a creative networking event at Little Man Coffee Company ran by A Little Chance. I have emailed A Little Chance asking for information to speak and show a presentation of my work at their next event. I also chatted to some of the staff at the coffee shop and they are keen to promote creatives. They ahve a wall that you can apply to exhibit on and the girls were enthusiastic about the sexism awareness. Also, the space below would be a perfect space to hold workshops/interaction. I have emailed the manager to see how I can apply for the wall and space although the staff were sure the next six weeks is booked out. The manager is also good friends with my current manager, so hopefully he will be happy to help and possibly allow my menus to be displayed there as well as the bar I work in now.

TBC…

Slow Week.

I feel like for the last 2 weeks I have been so ridiculously busy yet not really got anywhere, with my images anyway.

This week I have met with Victoria Jones of the PDR building. She has selected some of my pieces that she can use for a blog on gender equality within the creative industry. I just need to write up a blurb about each image and send them over to her. She gave me a few people to also look up and contact.

I have emailed the police regarding who to go to and what can be done when women are sexually assaulted in public spaces. 2 people have responded, 1 telling me to contact my local police; so obviously nothing is drafted across the nation and the local police telling me to contact my local PCSO. I will do that tomorrow, but I am aware that they don’t have the powers to arrest etc, they can only request the names and addresses of people and sexual assault is illegal…

I have had a mini tutorial with Nigel in the print studio. I shown him some of my images and he doesn’t believe they need takin ginto print to be any more effective. he said for what it would bring to the images, it would take up the rest of the time of my degree to perfect technique and achieve the desired effect. He suggested maybe just playing with the collage again. Deconstructing the images, printing them out seperately and physically making the collages again. I’m thinking of even deconstructing them and creating them as a scene as they would be physically in public then photographing them. He did suggest an animation, which would be pretty amazing, I could have scenario into scenarion, but again, I haven’t ever done an animation and we don’t have long left. I have a tutorial with Anna next week, so will speak to her about the options.

I have also had a phone conversation with a lady from a Sexual Wellbeing Charity that has just been launched. She spoke with me about drawing up a brief and me creating some illustrations for the websites and leaflets and posters. I am aware she has not looked at any of my work, she doesn’t seem to mind this; but we are in touch because I was originally going to volunteer for the charity. But now it is at crunch time with my degree, I don’t have the time to waste making images if they are not what is in mind for the branding of the charity. I have emailed her a link to my page so she can look and I will have a look at the brief when it is drawn up and decide whether I should commit to it or not.

I haven’t started collaging the furniture yet… I need to get moving on this…

There is more. I now I am forgetting something…. TBC.

Men On Our Side- The Welsh Assembly.

Tonight I was in the audience of a panel led discussion called Men On Our Side organised by the Welsh Assembly as Part of Women in Public Life; International Women’s Day Events.

This event was brought to my attentian via Cardiff Feminist Network. There were a lot of women against this as it was to be an all male panel. I signed up to be in the audience and decided to keep an open mind as I didn’t believe the event would of been composed in a way to undermine women or in a way the audience were not allowed to be involved in the conversation. Surely it has to be a two way things and that we need men to be actively involved in bringing equality to all aspects of life?

The panel consisted of Dr Neil Wooding (The Office for National Statistics), Carl Sargeant AM (National Assembly for Wales), Chris Green (White Ribbon Campaign UK) and Roger Lewis- WRU Group. The men were obviously commited to bringing equality into their areas and discussed how they went about this, how they challenged other men who are apposed to their ideas. Chris Green spoke of his White Ribbon Campaign and how it ties into the Everyday Sexism Campaign. I am planning to look more into this and contact him.

Although the audience were involved and their questions answered by the panel, it was apparent to me that the Women in Public Life title didn’t really cover public life. It covered work place, women on boards; all job related. They spoke of success and the negative look it gives to a woman and how men will exagerate their skills (and lie) where women will play down and doubt themselves etc, but it never addressed the issue of women in public spaces. The areas addressed are, obviously, in need of change, but I feel these are places where there are laws and regulations in place. These need to be upheld and improved and acted out on the ground. However women actually experiencing sexism in public areas, the lack of laws, protection or places to go and report are being over looked. There was talk (which I agree with to a certain extent) of the younger generation having more respect for women and treating them as equals in regard to work and education; but nothing was mentioned about the lack of respect for young girls/women in regard to sex. From the stories and reports that I have read, there seems to be a dangerous attitude, a lack of understanding of consent and respect and unrealistic expectations when it comes to the younger generation. The word ‘education’ keeps flying about, but who is going to give the education? When is it going to start?

I also watched a TED talk on the devastating effect of telling yourself that you are ugly. The lady speaks of the insecurites of young people and the bullying that happens on social media and how it implicates their future. Again, the confidence factor was spoken of when applying for jobs in the future and the impact that then has on the economy. This and tonight’s talk made me realise that people were resorting to using the economy to pin point the effect of undervaluing women. Which addresses the money-success-male attitude. Why is this the most important reason to regard a female as equal? Cause she can make your business as much money as a man can? Why not because it she is a human, entitled to the same treatment and worth?

http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Archive/53fb0dae-e1c6-4661-8967-e0d2cfd9650d?autostart=True#

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Everyday Sexism Workshop and Illustration Interaction.

Here I will post some of the comments made in relation to the illustrations I hung on the wall of the workshop.

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The notes from this were;

(on sexualised as a young girl)

* Grew up in the countryside & used to go on walks around “the block”. Had to hide from a white van who was following and making inappropriate comments. Aged 14.

(on discimination in education)

* Discouraged from Science by teachers.

* Placements offered men students more money than me.

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(on western beauty ideals and perfection portrayed in the media)

* From 12 years old onwards I was asked if I was ‘pregnant or just fat’ because I didn’t meet beauty standards.

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(on staying safe in public)

*ALWAYS hold keys as a weapon.

* Have been told off by male friends for walking home after a night out as if I am not a capable woman able to look after herself.

* Hold keys b/w my fingers.

* Had bruises from people smacking my bum.

* Fag burn from men in van because I didn’t appreciate sexual comments.

* Security at club told me to ‘suck it up’ when harrassed.

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This note reads; I have been brought up to ‘dress appropriately’ for my figure- I even wished I was Anorexic because at least then I could be considered as pretty.

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One woman addressed here; Sexual fulfilment for women as much as for men.

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(refering to sexism around the family unit)

* Mother is a professional in health service & father lives away. There was a stigma w/ parents living apart but not seperated. “What’s wrong, doesn’t your dad like you?”

(refering to sexism within the home)

* Being told it was my ‘job’ to have sex with my boyfriend.

After reporting back the events of the workshop, there are plans to have a meeting with members of Cardiff Feminist Network to take the discussion further.

Everyday Sexism Workshop.

A post asking to step in and facilitate a workshop was published on the Cardiff Feminist Network late last week as a group had dropped out of the planned slot. A workshop on Everyday Sexism was arranged as part of the Women’s Equality Network taking place after the Welsh Women’s Summit for International Women’s Day. I had previously posted about my illustrations in response to the book and campaign asking if anyone was also interested in this and if we could collaborate on an awareness campaign. I contacted the lady about being involved but told her I had never facilitated a workshop before. She convinced me to go ahead with it and between conversations put me in touch with another lady who was interested in facilitating and had experience as well as writing a book on ‘Lad Culture’. I met with Shahla, a green economics phd student from India, and we drew up a plan for the 45 minutes, planning to tell our stories, who we are and how we became interested in the campaign. We planned to get the group to interact by hanging a selection of my illustrations and asking them to apply post it notes to the ones they could relate to.

There was a concern about the numbers for the workshop as it wasn’t publisised too well and most people left after the summit. The workshop before ours was concelled, I assume, as we were able to have the room half an hour before schedule. However, a small group of 8 women and 1 man came and after a quiet start we managed to generate a conversation on different aspects of sexism they had experienced. As soon as one spoke, things picked up momentum to the point where the structure was taken away and it was more of a what felt natural approach. There were reoccurring themes; sexual assault, discrimination within education and the gender stereotyping of children and children’s toys. The group was pretty diverse; we had young sisters,say early 20’s, a mother and her 14 yr old daughter, a Kurdish male, a woman I am guessing in her mid 20’s and one around late 30’s and a middle aged woman who works for Equality and Human Rights.

I placed up 6 of my illustrations on the wall, trying to cover the range of areas sexism can take place; staying safe in public, gender stereotypes withing the home and family, being victimised within the home, beauty ideals as portrayed by the media and western culture, young girls being sexualised and discrimination within education. I asked the group to place post it notes next to any of the ilustrations and scenarios they could relate to and offering pens to write their experiences if they would like to.

The lady from Equality and Human rights took this opportunity to address what was obvious to her while the rest of the group were busy; we were getting caught up in labelling everything that was happening as bad attitudes where as a lot of it is illegal.

When the group returned we discussed this and the areas that needed to be addressed for us to take things forward. People need to be made aware of what is actually illegal and where. The lady suggested there used to be more of a sense of support when there were more workplace/organisation unions who could give out advice and information on laws that take place. She said laws are available on the EAHR website, but it doesn’t sound like there is one specific place you can go to easily and find the information you need. There are problems also of what if things like sexual assault happen in a public place, who can you go to and what can be done about it when the person can leave just as quick as they arrived and just what can the police do about it? The focus then turned to education with regard to respect and gender stereotyping. Not just education for children but also to the parens and grandparents. This would not be as simple as proposing that this be drafted into the education systen as another thing for teachers to take responsibility for. Realistically, there is only so much that can be put on teachers. Maybe this is where workshops can help, travelling to schools and events; getting adults involved. There were also suggestions to approach universities with regard to sexism and objectification, and major toystores with regard to gender stereotypes and exectations. This is something that could also be sold to toystores; them as being the brand that promotes equality and diversity, publicity, so to speak. This was spoken about at length and something I would fully get behind.

Proposed actions were; educate/ run workshops aimed at all age groups, disseminate images to raise awareness in bars/clubs, contact FB and ask why they don’t provide a system that allows you to state exactly why a group/page offend you (9 grounds of discrimination), find out exactly what is illegal and raise awareness, question gender stereotyping of children’s stores, contact police/CSO’s to find out exactly what can be done regarding incidences/who to report to, etc.

The workshop was meant to run for 45 minutes, but nearly overlapped by double the time. People stayed behind to talk, go through the other illustrations and swap contact details. The Equality and Human Rights lady was very keen to get involved and help me with what I needed to know and a lady regarding a business plan she has for gender neutral toys. The man stayed behind to talk a little more quietly; he suggested that the government should take the issue more seriously, as if the men have no deterrant, they will only continue and that more women need to stand up and believe in themselves and that it is wrong.

There were post it notes pinned on each illustration on the wall and even some on the illustrations I had left out on the tables. Some were left blank, but others had wrote some saddening stories.

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