This evening I had the wonderful opportunity to work with artist Lucy MacLeod as part of a workshop with For Enjoyment CIC around drawing or depicting human narratives.
We were to pick a narrative from some old vintage photos. Initially we were to choose from a local museum collection (which I will come back to) but I felt deeply inspired by it being Election Day and a repetition of times past. So digitally I pulled together some vintage photos and digitally overlaid them. I was working with the theme of what it is to be female (inclusively) in society. The expectations placed upon us, the things that signal the characteristics of the socially constructed gender norms. I picked teenagers in between womanhood and childhood, motherhood, the working women from a telephone exchange, women wearing face masks (synonymous of current times), an contrasted with women identified within extremes, the non conformist, the Hollywood imposition of identity, the woman of colour living her life well in times where there was a background of segregation and the ultimate femininity of an elegant ballerina looking out of curtains into the wider world. Although not every depiction of an expectation or a non conformist, extreme this was a small collection of a first hint into something of my inner construction/ roots. The stories that come together to shape the person writing and creatively exploring today. Pieces of a jigsaw that creates Stacie Amelia. I was so inspired I took a separate route to the planned workshop although within the same purpose of learning technique. I thoroughly enjoyed this!
It is just the beginning of such play and although dealing with issues such as identity, it is fully still based on the physicality of the body. Age, stage, expectation of physical expression. I made a caricature of what lies beneath the surface in the most non conformist image I could find. I gently exaggerated in a Tim Burton corpse bride style look to depict the skull and ridiculousness of societal imposition of Beauty when beneath all we are is bone, skin etc. Perception is in the eye of the beholder. It was fun play.
In terms of texture and background I used tea stains and the roughage of tea leaves since so many women in the world work in plantations poorly paid and cared for whilst the expectation of western society upon women is that we are tea drinkers. This was purposefully chosen as a dichotomy a juxtaposition. Also smudgy finger prints to represent the ‘grubby hands’ of patriarchy and misogyny that has told women how to be ie. behave, dress, appear in order to be accepted. That has set the parameters of the feminine for such a deep rooted period of history.
The technique was considering texture and background upon which to consider the human narrative of the vintage photography we were using/ exploring. To highlight an element of the story in the images. Whilst working all the while with balance of composition.
In a mixed media format I used Indian ink, watercolour, negative and sepia vintage photographic images, pastel, oil paint and graphite upon Derwenrt watercolour paper.
Here is the process and outcome from this first step into working in such a way.
There is much to look at in here the piece is actually A3 in size so initially to the eye it is very busy but feel free to look more closely. To the naked eye the experience is different. Once forming part of a wider exhibition perhaps some will feel that. However for now you can see the energy and vastness within the topic. Hopefully it’s not to overwhelming in its digital form. Here are a few close ups and differing stages. Much more to be explored with this depicting human narrative work .