Yesterday, I visited the new Ocean Studios Gallery in Plymouth. The exhibition “A Taste of Things to Come” is the first since the space opened and features artists such as Grayson Perry, Richard Deacon and Gillian Wearing. The Gallery is located at Royal William Yard, a grade 1 listed former Royal Navy building and I absolutely love the gallery space they’ve created.
The exhibition itself had key themes of feminism, motherhood and diversity. One of the most interesting pieces was a series of slate scratchings documenting artist Mary Kelly’s son learning to spell his name and slowly gaining independence after beginning school. The piece expresses how she feels at this separation from him.
I think it’s really great that Ocean Studios has opened in Plymouth, it’s aim to revitalise Plymouth culturally, re-engage the public with the arts and be a home for south west artists is fantastic and I will definitely be visiting future exhibitions!
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win day tickets from the ArtsCentre for the first ever Plymouth Short Film Festival. It was founded by Plymouth University Media Arts graduates William Jenkins and Ben Hancock to promote local talent.
There were four categories spread out over the day which consisted of:
Best South West Film
Best Student Film
Best Fiction Film
At the end of each category you voted on a slip of paper for whichever short film you considered to be the best. Unfortunately I was only able to attend the Documentary and Student categories due to other commitments but the work I saw was amazing. A lot of the films shown were in other languages so it was good to see the festival get attention internationally. I was completely blown away by the standard of work shown particularly in the Student category. It has really motivated and inspired me in my own work.
A stand out film for me was “Born to be Mild” by Andy Oxley (which can currently be watched here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01xj6kb) which is about the “Dull Men’s Club” who participate in activities such as admiring roundabouts, collecting bricks and taking photographs of post boxes.
I hope this becomes an annual event as the festival was thoroughly enjoyable and is a great place to showcase short films in Plymouth.
Last night I attended “The Naked Debate” which discussed the issues surrounding Page 3 in The Sun newspaper. The debate was about whether this page consisting of topless women should be allowed to still be printed in this day and age. The founder of the “No More Page Three” campaign; Lucy Holmes was present to give her argument against the use of Page 3.
The night consisted of four people; Phil Ives, a writer for “The Knowledge” and Charlie Green, the Vice President of the SU for Plymouth University giving their argument in favour of Page 3 followed by the Women’s Rep for Plymouth University (Jessica Horner) and Lucy Holmes giving the opposite view. Lucy Holmes’ speech was a particular highlight as she was particularly articulate and passionate on the subject (as you would expect from the founder!). Upon entering the debate you had the opportunity to mark whether you were for or against page 3, this was repeated at the end to see if the debate had changed anyone’s minds. I, however am 100% against Page 3 and my mind did not change throughout the process. The results will be posted online within the week, it will be interesting to see the results. All in all, “The Naked Debate” was incredibly interesting and though provoking whilst being a great platform to see both sides of the argument.
Interestingly, the same night the documentary “Blurred Lines” was aired on BBC Two. (It’s still on iplayer if you’re interested!) The documentary hosted by Kirsty Wark explores our culture showing how acceptable it is to show women in a sexually explicit and often abusive way in the media and whether the internet has made this behaviour more socially acceptable by blurring the lines of what is “casual banter” and what is serious sexism and misogyny posing as a joke. Throughout the hour Kirsty Wark covered a lot of issues surround this topic, often not having an in depth discussion about each of the areas but I feel that the point of this was to show a much broader view of how wide spread this issue is in our culture. The angle of the documentary was very much about how our culture says “anything goes” and if you’re offended you simply don’t have a sense of humour. The documentary raised a lot of interesting points on both sides of the argument in relation to online and offline misogyny and it worth a watch if you can.
I took these images through the installment set up for another student’s work which involved a projector and sheets of sheer fabric that enlarged the projections that ascended through the room. I think the pictures look quite dreamlike.
I recently went to an exhibition at Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery called “Women in Art”. This exhibition has work from the Renaissance to the modern day. It features models, portraits and 20th century ceramics surrounding women.
Artists on display include John Waterhouse, Beryl Cook, Prunella Clough, Rose Hilton, Elizabeth Forbes, Anya Gallacio and Kate Nicholson. Ceramics by Clarice Clift, Dorothy Doughty and Lucie Rie.
Next door to this exhibition was a collection of portrait paintings by Laura Knight which I particularly enjoyed.
However, it got me thinking about sexism in the arts and how hard it is for female artists to be taken seriously and be remembered by history.
For example, how many female artists featured in the top 100 auction sales, ranked by price, last year? Gemma Rolls-Bentley, an independent curator, looked at the 2012 list “and spent a couple of hours writing M next to the artists. I got to the end and there wasn’t a single F.” The list was a mixture of living and dead artists, all were highly valued both critically and economically and all were men.
Campaigning group UK Feminista in 2010 showed that 83% of the artists in Tate Modern were men, along with 70% of those in the Saatchi Gallery.
These numbers further reflect women’s marginalisation in art history. It is estimated that only around 5% of the work featured in major permanent collections worldwide is by women. The National Gallery in London, for example, contains more than 2,300 works however only 11 of the artists in their collection are women.
This is a poster from the Guerrilla Girls, a feminist activist group who started highlighting sexual and racial inequality in the arts in 1985 – while dressed in gorilla masks due to being ignored. Perhaps their most famous poster came in 1989, and featured the female nude from Ingres’s “Grande Odalisque”.
Obviously, this is not just an issue in painting and sculpture but across all artistic mediums.
Today I attended the initial meeting of Plymouth University’s Feminist Society, it was started to tackle the LAD and rape culture inset into the student population but also to fight misconceptions about Feminism and to create a space to discuss feminist activism and theory.
As part of a University module I am currently making a documentary about student perspectives on feminism, so three of the founders of the society were kind enough to let me interview them once the session was over. Everyone at the meeting made some really interesting points about the issues with gender inequality currently and what can be done in the University to help fight this. It was also really helpful to my documentary to see the diverse range of what being a feminist means to people at the University. It was also really good to see men there to discuss gender equality as they brought a new perspective to the debate of feminism in this generation.
I’m looking forward to seeing where this society goes in relation to my documentary but also in the sense of improving gender equality at the University.