Archive for the ‘my little life’ Category

IWD Post #1 : Can feminist art change the world?

March 8, 2011

Here are a few things I saw whilst at York University’s Centre for Women’s Studies’ ‘Carnival of feminist cultural activism‘ :

knickerbunting

Julia Triston‘s Knicker Bunting

potentiamagazine

The Potentia Magazine team

fwordfeministlibrary

Catherine Redfern and Kristin Aune, authors of Reclaiming the F Word: The New Feminist Movement and Gail from The Feminist Library

billsavage

Bill Savage and the backdrop for the karaoke video of Le Tigre’s Keep on Livin’

paperwomen

Paper Women

dolly

Dolly, the festival Pinata

chubster

Charlotte ‘The Beefer’ Cooper, head of The Chubster gang, teaching wannabe chubsters how to spit at the BMI chart.

I had a brilliant, brilliant time. I will blog later about how my own workshop went. Happy International Women’s Day!

Oh and yes, I do believe that feminist art can indeed change the world.

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St Vince

September 30, 2010

You know that awkward situation when you start a relationship with someone and then like a month later it’s their birthday? And you don’t know what to get them, do you get them something big- would that look OTT? Would something too small look like you didn’t actually like them? And what if it doesn’t last long enough for them to get you something for your birthday? Everyone knows birthday presents are a two way street. Well I get this quandary worse than normal people, I’m sure. Cos I like makin’ shit. I can’t give presents what I bought because it doesn’t seem right.

And so, when I found myself in this very situation in July, what’s a girl gonna do? I could make him something quick but a bit rubbish? He wouldn’t really know. But you know me. Once I get an idea in my head that aint gonna shift.

And so I give you, St Vince:

vincey

For those of you wondering “Who the fuck is that?” it is Vince Cable. And for those of you still wondering “Who the fuck is that?”, Vince is a good Liberal Democrat. Remember them?

Boyfriend loves Vince. Boyfriend loves Vince so much Boyfriend has a mug with Vince’s face on. Boyfriend loves Vince and loved his Lib Dem gang so much he ran for Lib Dem Councillor in his local area in May. He didn’t succeed, but that’s because he lives in an extreme conservative area and not because he’s shit. Because he’s not shit. He’s awesome.

And so it came to me: Make him a goldwork portrait of Vince Cable as a saint. And it wouldn’t go away. And so I went into school in the summer time and set up myself a little Vince making workshop.

Turns out it was all worth it anyway because overtime I fell for him in a big way. Both Vince and Boyfriend.

————–
This post can also read as: “Oh hey I’m back! I broke my camera and then my replacement broke on its own but I lost the receipt and then I had to earn money to buy a third but now I’ve got a new camera so should be able to blog more now.”

PS I linked to Boyfriend’s tumblr in here somewhere. If you click on the link you can see: His bikes, his special bike sandals and shoes (I wish I was joking) Vince next to one of his bikes, his home brewed beer AND the best bit of his WHOLE tumblr, an original poem from me. BELIEVE IT.

Feminism is for everyone

September 4, 2010

candyfloss

“My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it’s very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.” – Ani DiFranco

Twice in my life I have been looked down upon by other female feminists for something I have done. Once, it was a medical condition I had (which apparently was my body’s way of telling me I was a lesbian- and that I should embrace that, and not doing so meant I was a bad feminist) and another it was for liking a song that was supposedly drenched in misogyny (My argument? It wasn’t.)

Both times this has happened it has left me in tears. It makes you doubt yourself, makes you even doubt if you want to be part of a cause if people from inside the movement will make you feel that small. If you’re being attacked from the inside, how the hell are you going to survive on the outside?

This happens rarely. I have experienced it only twice and yet I loudly proclaim a lot that I’m sure many a feminist would think negatively of. And it happens in all political movements too. There is always someone getting angry at others for not being as passionate/angry/consumed by the cause.

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” – Gloria Steinem

I understand why it happens- when you first start reading into feminism, you can’t help yourself. Every corner you turn you see misogyny, everytime you turn on the TV you’re horrified at this new world that you had previously been blinded to. I spent about six months on the brink of tears from frustration at the world all the time. But, that’s no way to live. I didn’t enjoy it, and I’m sure I wasn’t a fun person to be around. I didn’t counciously stop being that way. I just simply couldn’t do it. The constant anger and the tears exhausted me.

It’s not like I no longer see it. I do. Oh, I do. And it’s not like I laugh at it and brush it off, or think “Well, there’s nothing to be done!” It’s just there’s no point in getting angry. You see any argument, anywhere, and the angry one always loses out to the calm, collected argument. If you make yourself approachable, you aren’t judgemental, and you listen to others – you can convince them round to your way of thinking, you can get them to walk away from the conversation and go “Oh, maybe I’m a feminist then!” I’ve had this breakthrough multiple times since I calmed down. And in my anger? Not a sausage.

There’s a thing called Sisterhood. It’s about sticking up for your fellow women, it’s about picking up the coin that that woman infront of you dropped, it’s about seeing a woman on the street crying and stopping to ask if she’s ok, it’s about helping that woman with her buggy down the steps, it’s about being supportive. It’s being human. And not in any circumstance is it attacking another woman for not being the kind of woman you think she ought to be. Some women are “girly”, some women like wearing make-up, some women like listening to hip-hop, some women like being submissive in sexual relationships, some women just want to get married and have children. Women are women. Women are people. People are diverse, and there is nothing wrong with that.

“Feminism has to be for all women. Even women you think are stupid, naive, or “tragically unfamiliar with the content of Playboy.” Even women who walk into the wrong room. Even women with bad publicists. Even women with no publicists. Even women who expect professional photographers and stylists to honor professional contracts without question. Even women who have lied. Even women who have bashed other women. Even women who you think have capitalized on their “female sexuality.” Even women who “flaunt [their] junk for money and fame.” Even women with cleavage on the cover of books. Even women who sometimes wear bikinis. Even women who don’t perform all of these feats of “female sexuality” naturally, even women from whom it’s all “an act.” Even women you think are bitches. Even women who talk about it.” From Feminism for Bitches – The Washington City Post

So yeah, even if you think they’re wrong, don’t jump to it and tell them that ‘they should know better’. Listen to what they have to say. Don’t be a brick wall. Talk to them calmy, maybe you’ll learn from them.

Take Back Parliament

May 14, 2010

So, we’ve had an election recently in the UK. And I got involved. Big style. The run up to the election consumed me- all the time. All my chat was about it, for weeks. Some moaned, some just sat and listened knewing I was unstoppable, and some got involved and went with me on it.

I was championing the Liberal Democrats. I loved them so much I went to a ‘flash mob’ in central London where we all stood around wearing the party colour (yellow) and chanted “I agree with Nick!” (the party leader)

lilyandme

Here’s a photo, taken by my Brother in Law of my sis and I there. Guess which one I am lololololol

One of the Liberal Democrat’s policies was electoral reform- challenging Britain’s First Past The Post system and asking instead for Proportional Representation- making every vote count so that some parties (the Lib Dems being one of them) had an actual chance of getting power- rather than the two main parties being the only seemingly viable options.

I didn’t realise how important a policy it was until the voting results came in. Conservative got 37% of the vote. Labour got 30% and Lib Dem got 24%. Did this translate into seats into Parliament? No. No it didn’t. Conservatives got 305 seats, Labour got 258 and Lib Dem? 57. How on earth does that work? I don’t understand it- but I know it’s not right.

This gave way to a new movement in the UK. People demanding fair votes, people demanding Proportional Representation- regardless of their political views, people want their votes to count. A group called Take Back Parliament have started a petition and have organised demonstrations and ‘flash mobs’ (which now appears to be less dancing in public and more a hastily organised get together of 100+ people in public.) and encouraged people to wear purple, the colour of suffrage, all week.

Tomorrow is the main event. On Monday there was a flashmob- and I went, head to toe in purple, with a little something extra… An armband embroidered with ‘Proportional Representation no more broken elections’ emblazoned onto the side. I had spent my day doing it and had even printed off patterns to take incase anybody there was into the stitch. I gave out a few but as we all know, political protesters that enjoy cross stitch are few and far between.

no~
Larger size, here!


Larger size, here!

Today I finally got around to photographing the finished article-

I do quite like this armband fandango.

Strange little world

April 30, 2010

So, some months back I did a little embroidery for a special project that I shall keep secret for now. But you can see the embroidery I did for it!

silkbulls

Two little cotton bulls on red silk. They are done with long and short stitch, which took forever but were received ever so well and I’m rather proud of them. I shalln’t lie. The person who I stitched them for, when she saw the first one said “I can’t believe this is by hand!” To which my tutor replied “They weren’t, it was a machine” HO HO HO JOKES! Unfortunately the woman in receipt simply assumed this was the truth, and was then excited by the fact they made machines that did embroidery like that. I gather that over lunch with him, she asked him what machine it was I’d used – at which point he had to admit his joke had failed and in fact it was a labour of love, with my hands.

Boasting over. Detail shot.

longandshort

All this took place in January, I think. It was certainly over by March, anyhow.

A couple of days back, and we’re now at the end of April, I went down to the RSN studios to find some tapestry wool, for a canvas design I’ve been working on, in the shape of a bulls head. The head of the studios saw this, and excitedly told me she’d found something in a box recently that I’d like. “Because I know you like bulls an’ that.”

Holy fuck. Spot the difference, anyone? Apparently this was done in the 80s, or something.

So, obvious things first:
It’s a bull.
It’s (mostly) in black.
It’s on red.
It’s stance is extremely similar.

Less obvious things:
The stitch is exactly the same one I used.
The amount of strands in the needle, the same.
The direction of the stitches are the same.
The length of the stitches are the same.

My tutor was in stitches when I showed her, we sat giggling at it for a good few minutes not quite sure what to say. Why on earth had I chosen to do the exact same thing all these years later? It must be something in the water in these parts.

It was pretty good for me to find- it totally confirmed to me that this obsession with bulls I’ve developed recently has been a good one to get. I started stitching the bulls when I realised my history was peppered with them. Reappearing and reappearing time and time again. And now it seems my future will be that way too.

A little nothing goes a long, long way.

April 4, 2010

sophie is pretty

A friend asked me to embroider some words onto some clothes for her. When the request was made, back in November, she had no idea what she wanted. We slowly wittled it down to “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens” (Talking Heads lyrics ftw!) and a super little vintage stripey vest.

I made a cross stitch pattern for it, using Stitch Point.


A link to a bigger image

Sophie said she wanted the entirely lowercase one. And so, on it went!

heavenisaplace

When I was taking it to her, I was busy reading God Bless You, Mr Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut on the train. I was excited to find an extract of Mr Rosewater’s book, describing heaven. And how does he describe it? As a place where nothing ever happens. “Heaven is such a null… A LITTLE NOTHING, O GOD, GOES A LONG LONG WAY.”

pearlsbeforeswine

I used to like pigs.

April 1, 2010

So, this time last year I was obsessed with Pigs. It’s now bulls, but I fancy revisiting the past.

Why did I like pigs?
Firstly: What’s not to love? They’re all cute and snorty and big and ugly and hairy and covered in mud and wonderful. And tasty, let’s not forget that.
Secondly: Because I was doing a project based around ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ and I let it consume me. I enjoyed it consuming me. During this project, I not only took nice photographs:

pigggy

(And yes, I could see piggy brains)

But I also discovered a verse from the bible that I swiftly adapted into a motto I have since lived by. And now, it is a cross stitch pattern which I wish to gift to you all, for so patiently waiting for me to update my blog (I know, I’ve been gone a while.)

pearlsbeforeyou

And now, when I do something that I am proud of that goes unappreciated- or worse, scorned, I simply remember it is pearls before swine.

Popular Culture references to this include:
In Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Milly finds solace in her bible when the Seven Brothers are being arses to her. She then returns to the dining room and throws the table over and fucks some shit up. Go Milly.

Kurt Vonnegut’s 1965 novel ‘God Bless you, Mr Rosewater’, the extended title is ‘God Bless you, Mr Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine’. In it, Eliot Rosewater exchanges his rich, decadent lifestyle, to live in an old dentist’s office, and becomes a 24/7 agony aunt for the people of Rosewater town, who need and love him. His family think he has gone insane and cannot comprehend that such a selfless life can be lived sanely. It’s pretty good, you oughta read it. “If you would be unloved and forgotten, be reasonable.”

Talk to you soon, I promise.

Oh, and those struggles I mentioned? All gone. I am a happy bunny once again.

Back to Earth with a Bang

December 21, 2009

Remember me? I don’t.

Life got a bit funny, things got a bit hard-The Royal School of Needlework suprised me a little. But I’m ok now. I’m living in a house with internet (this is like a dream!) and I’m happier. Since I’ve got the internet, I’m going to be around more, I promise.

The astute amongst you might notice I’ve changed my header. I’m re-doing this blog now. I’ve finally admitted to myself I’m not as twee as I like to think I am and I’m celebrating that. I wear boots and I swear. It’s fun, especially in the Royal School of Needlework.

This piece has a story or two- it was originally stitched for the NSFW Phat Quarter swap on Flickr. It’s based on a painting of Sappho (doing what she does best, other than writing poems) by Édouard-Henri Avril. I wanted to create something that whilst being NSFW for the easily offended, it’s less something dirty and more something to be celebrated. Sex isn’t bad or disgusting. It’s not something to be shyed away from- it’s beautiful. And so, I give you embroidered cunnilingus:

segsex

I embroidered this in many public places, on many trains- although perhaps I enjoyed this most on the tube train to the Knit and Stitch Show. Sat amongst school friends and a tutor it was a good way to introduce myself. A stranger, also on her way to the show, joined in with the fun and complimented me on my stitching too.
A little while after finishing, and whilst I was saving up the money for postage, my Mother laid her greedy eyes upon it and fell in love. After pleading me and guilt tripping me with such lines as “You wouldn’t be eating if it wasn’t for me. YOU WOULDN’T EVEN BE ALIVE IF IT WASN’T FOR ME!” I relented and agreed to give it to her and Dad for Christmas. And I wonder why I turned out weird. I’ve now got to make something else to send to Jojobooster, and I hope she forgives me.

Technical aspects:
Stitched on a pre stitched pillow case I bought from a charity shop, I only did the women and the ‘Sappho’. When have I ever bothered to stitch a flower? I matched the colours, in more ways than one. It’s a quilted piece and done in chain and backstitch.

I’ll leave you with that for a little while.

Two kinds of news.

August 28, 2009

What do you want first? The good news or the bad news?
I like to have the bad news first. The good news then helps nurse the pain of the bad.

So here it is;
nomiracleshere

At least the bad news looks pretty, eh? I stitched this while in Sydney as a present for a good friend. It’s a cross stitched rip off of this Turner Prize entry.

And the good news?


(Taken from Arlee Barr’s photostream)

Yes yes, I am now a guest poster at Mr X Stitch! One friday of every month I shall release secrets from The Royal School of Needlework to the world. I will keep you posted on my posting.

Your Man

August 26, 2009

So, as I said in my last post- My big sister has tied the knot! Since she’s my one and only sibling, and therefore by default- my favourite sister, I knew I had to put in a lot of effort into the wedding present. Just buying her some quilt covers would not do.

I decided the whole ‘international’ theme would be a good one to go by- so I wanted to do something distinctly British. If she was going to be getting married to a foreigner, away from the homeland- then she’d sure as heck have to be reminded of the little island she grew up on with me. When the inspiration finally hit, I realised how obvious it was. Royal Weddings. You can’t get more British than Charles and Diana’s wedding memorabilia. A nation obsessed by one couple, every time you go into a charity shop over here, you can rely on finding at least a mug with a classic Chaz and Di wedding design on. I did a quick google search and found this; my starting point.

And this? My finishing:

As the astute amongst you can see- it’s very different from the inspiration, and not just because it’s embroidered. I decided I had to make it at least a little Australian… Didn’t want Mister Sister getting uppity.

I swapped all the standard leaves for Eucalyptus leaves, and I swapped a bouquet of thistles for a waratah, a native Austrlian flower. I made the mistake of using Bullion knots, and lots of them, to depict the bizarre texture of a waratah. It took me ages, but everyone who saw it recognised them straight away- so a little victory for me there.

bullionwaratah

One of the changes I was most happy with was changing The Prince of Wales feathers for Archaeopteryx feathers. Mister Sister is a palaeontologist, and loves Archaeopteryxs the most. I asked him what colour “Archeop-whatever feathers” were, but being big and clever he just sent me a text he’d written for Uni and basically just fobbed me off with the whole “your guess is as good as mine” excuse. Helpful. I went for dark blue and maroon.

I’m quite proud of my acorns. They’re pretty cute, huh?

And finally, on the original the words ‘Ich Dien’ are inscribed. I did a little research to find out what they meant, and according to Yahoo Answers, it means ‘I serve’. Well, as if that was getting by on a wedding present to my sister. I discovered it was derived from ‘Eich Dyn’ or ‘Your Man’. And yeah. That’ll do.

I embroidered it all on a table cloth I’d bought from a charity shop, that had already been embroidered by someone who really liked flowers and bows. The embroidery itself is about A2 size, but the table cloth is bigger. It was hung where the reception was taking place, and it became quite a talking point, and dancing-infront-of-point too. In the grand tradition of weddings, here’s Father of The Bride dancing. My excuse for posting this photograph is a size comparison shot.

daddancing

But I don’t really need an excuse, do I?