“My work explores the psychological turmoil caused by living in a body or identity that society rejects for one reason or another. Working in fluid and responsive mediums like glass, fiber, and light, I strive to communicate both the loneliness and the power engendered by this “othered” existence.
INtimacy is a fabric painting that explores the taboo of touch in relation to bodies - both human and artistic. The work includes a fur pocket that the viewer is invited to reach into, exploring the interior of the work and touching something that is generally considered off limits”
Anne Cecile Surga
Anne Cecile Surga’s The Piercing series explores the subculture of body modification. The work examines western ideals of beauty, juxtaposing the traditional sculptural material of marble (used in classical art to create many ideals of beauty) with pierced metal elements.
In Europe, having tattoos and piercings can place an individual on the margins of society and qualify them as an ‘outsider’ or part of a subculture. Surga also sees this as a form of empowerment, in revealing something which society may prefer to be hidden (for example under clothing for work), she questions our notions of beauty and how these are created.
In Annie Wells’ piece Foot Fetishism, bare feet are pictured covered in glitter. Shot close up, the rest of the body has been erased, objectifying the feet as perhaps an object of desire.
However, the feet are visibly ‘human’; we can see callouses and ragged toenails, they look dirty. The glitter, rather than looking glamorous and seductive, looks as though it may have been trodden on dancing at a club’s sticky floor. Annie Wells seems to be exploring the idea of hidden desires, and the contrast between fetish and dirty secret.
“My work uses drawing and printmaking to make observations concerning human relationships and communication. Through experimenting with medium and text I hope to visually document the metaphysical processes that occur in everyday life such as opinions, situations, thoughts and recurrences. My images are often naïve and messy, intentionally contradicting the labour-intensive nature of printmaking and alluding to my personal relationship with the subjects of my images. The work I am exhibiting explores unspoken tensions about becoming an ‘adult,’ relating to expected, observed and felt behaviours and customs.”
Athena Anastasiou’s work poses questions about indentity. She examines whether societal expectations and inherited belief systems inhibit self-expression and empowerment. Athena draws material from the eclectic streets of San Francisco, where prostitution, homosexuality, drugs, class divide and racial discrimination are common. The use of the figure of Jesus in her work may be a symbol of love and compassion for some, and for others may signify an oppressive or restrictive religious tradition. Athena says of this piece: "I am interested in how traditional old fashioned societies can still look at homosexuality as ‘indecent’"
“The Fulfilment of a Wish reproduces a chapter from Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud and engages in dialogue with sexualised images taken from advertising that is continuously updated at the time of showing. Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, had developed many theories stemming from the unconscious mind. Between all of the blunders and breakthroughs of equal measure, one of the most inconclusive theories was his outlined in the 1899 book, Interpretation of Dreams. Despite eluding scientific substantiation, Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, has used many of his theories to pioneer modern advertising in the 1920's. Popularly considered the father of public relations, the methods promoted by Bernays continues to be universally practised within the advertising industry.”
CHAM was born in and grew up in Damascus, Syria and later moved to Dubai in 2012 at the beginning of the Syrian Crisis. Her paintings are a metaphor for the pain and loss caused by war in her home country; creating x-rays of “the broken parts of my country, the lost people and me”. She works in a linear style, translating pathways through time and history into lines. “A line is a result of a connection between two points, similarly, the human’s identity is result of connected experiences, it is adaptable, developed and shaped by incidents.”
“My artwork takes a critical view of social, political and cultural issues. It contradicts elements that evolve the personal with the social, the local with the universal and often presents contemporary topics through images that indicate an atmosphere of another era. The use of pink colour is used symbolically in order to establish a dreamlike, cartoonish quality that suggests notions of romance and lost innocence… The cartoonlike characters are combined with realistic figures in order to create a story or a myth. The images I paint, portray different aspects of human life and in particular visions of my own existence. My art can be described as amusing and humorous but simultaneously mysterious and ironic.”
Dianne Murphy’s work uses images from childhood to explore social issues and injustice. Most of her work consists of steel plate colour inked etchings, from which narratives can be drawn by examining the symbolism. Saturn's 2nd Return (For Wendy) seems to explore unspoken unhappiness. The viewer may assume that Wendy is the doll-like figure, standing before the robot, who may be Saturn. Wendy’s distorted and broken face implies unhappiness or trauma, and Saturn is historically the planet associated with sadness. It may also be significant that Saturn does not have a face, but a screen showing white noise, adding to the idea of impersonality and remoteness.
Electra Costa says of her work: “My work is concerned with the idea of images and objects appearing innocent and harmless, but they can also be interpreted in a more sinister way.” Her piece Bunny Mask conveys a sinister air, due to the use of materials (she often works on black background with chalks) and the hidden face of the child represented. Drawing on the horror film trope of the masked evil, the piece suggests a background menace.
Emma Davis’ work draws influence from the simplicity of Japanese and Indian art. Much of her practice stems from the process of drawing - “the effect and meaning of line - an abstract quality but one that refers back to pictographic languages and calligraphy". ‘Swan Lake White’ is part of a series concerned with the idea of veils, layers, secret languages and what is hidden.
Evelyn Jean is a multi-media artist from London. He has a passion for making art that captures his innermost fears and pleasures, whilst questioning the actual purpose of these emotions. He says of his work: “I am distracted by human behaviour and how we really feel about ourselves underneath the veil.” In They tell me that it's real, then ask me how I feel a surreal scene takes place. The selection of heads waiting to be tried on implies that there are multiple (perhaps hidden) identities present in the sitting figure, waiting to be ‘put on’. Evelyn says that this work is about “The underlying feeling that something is not quite right and you are being forcefully made to watch it.”
Fragility of Self
“I use mannequins, my own sculptures and digital manipulation to construct photo art - my intention being to create subtle images in which the subject matter is almost secondary and conversely more intense; to express vulnerability and instability but also allude to the fundamental core strength within - in an attempt to capture the fragility of self.”
Holly Sabine Nerreter
“This piece is a secret look through the ‘Peek-a-boo of Love’. Love hurts and sadly even kills, yet many victims of domestic abuse still believe that their partner loves them. Often the victim of domestic abuse will say that they cannot leave their abuser because of their own love for them. So these bruises and realities remain hidden by make-up and sun glasses; by fictional stories grown on fear and love.”
“I am a conceptual artist using visual language to express thoughts and emotions around a range of topics – usually with autobiographical content. The creative process & physical outcome provide a therapeutic release & visual journal. My style is experimental & diverse – a reflection of my chaotic thought processes. My aim is not to produce traditionally aesthetic imagery, but to communicate, inspire, challenge thinking & create discussion.”
For Unspoken, Jenni Bea is presenting an ongoing project on the topic of self-harm.
“It has been said that time heals all wounds. I don’t agree. The wounds remain. Time – the mind, protecting its sanity – covers them with some scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone.”
Jess is exhibiting one piece; Candy Cane.
Jess Clauser is originally from the United States and completed her MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. After spending 6 1/2 years in Beijing and Hong Kong she relocated to London, England.
“I am interested in the idea that we have the capacity to shape our own identity and the absurdity of my characters keeps this light-hearted. I guise myself as fictional characters and with the use of make-up, props and green screen technology, I am able to insert my character in different settings. Emerging from this is a tension between the truth and falsity behind the making of an image and the documentation of a private performance. Despite the vein of sweet-with-sour subject, there is a dark and gentle undercurrent of intervention into art history.”
“It was almost 10 years ago since you killed yourself. Your sister phoned me, said you jumped from your balcony last night, and invited me to your funeral. I had just known you for some months, we had been on one date, watched an Almodóvar movie, I don´t remember the title. I think it was filmed on one of the Canary Islands, dark volcanic soil, a woman in a blond wig. I had all these feeling for you and nowhere for them to go. When someone commits suicide, the world goes quiet. I started to take photos of dead animals, roadkills or those preserved in liquid. Sat for hours in the ceramic studio making animal skulls. I guess I tried to observe death, and somehow understand it.”
“My work is both a celebration and condemnation of technology and how it affects the way we navigate sexual intimacy. My process of digitally manipulating photographs of anonymous naked bodies in Photoshop is made obvious in the final painted piece, and is intended as a comment on the way so much of the media we are presented with is manipulated in order to deceive the viewer. I make this deception or ‘unreality’ obvious within my paintings through exposing the digital editing processes, highlighting the distance between the subject and how it is eventually presented to the viewer.”
Mia Wilkinson’s work creates a statement about the way identity is performed in a media culture. The female figures she paints are drawn from advertising, magazines about female bodybuilders, and squisher websites. Creating an unapologetic view of the female nude, she looks to alternative cultures to reveal a new way of looking at the female body.
“My work delves into the curious, fascinatingly odd and morbidly beautiful. I aim to intrigue the viewer and pull them in to my world with strange objects and morbid curios to manipulate their emotions on the subject of mortality - life, death & resurrection. I wish to challenge the inevitability of our disappearance after death by preventing decay and rescuing ‘junk’.
My ‘Fetish Comforts’ series represent the secret and taboo ways in which someone may calm their mind or relieve their stresses through the fetish scene and sexual promiscuity. The ways in which they can feel at home within submission, feel surrounded in company by casual sex, and feel empowered by erotic fashion and their own sexuality”
“Unavoidable menopausal symptoms reside in our female bodies. This deep frustration beholds us to the ridicule of humour, as we endeavour to connect with our bodies, in essence explaining how we feel. I have challenged myself to encapsulate a visual record embodying the many women living in their introverted world. I use the raw canvas and oil paint as a metaphor for the body itself and the perceptible change in our appearance.”
Nadia Nervo captures intimate and often unseen moments with her female sitters. She says of this piece “The female figure features prominently in many of my photographs. In this series I invite strangers to sit for me naked. The project aims to capture intimate portraits of women. Throughout history the nude has been has been predominately portrayed by male artists, I am interested in exploring and embracing an intimacy between women, between artist and subject that is fearless and empowering.”
“Growing up in my family, the answer to the question of “where is your family from?” was open, allowed to be speculative and based on rumors and imagination. This, paired with the mobility and mutability white privilege afforded us in the United States, to some extent allowed my family history to be whatever we wanted it to be. However, through traveling and living abroad I have realized I am not always in control of the fluid quality of my identity. My choice to portray identity as consumable and optional stems from an uncertainty of my own family’s history. My goal is to draw the viewer in with a seemingly lighthearted tone and bright aesthetic while discussing the complexities of inheriting privilege and anxiety. I invented these characters to identify me. Having a fixed identity, a universal legibility would feel safer, but it’s unrealistic and can only exist in a virtual, imagined space and even there my guides are flickering and failing to figure me out.”
Pascaline Rey creates work showing how the human body is used by contemporary society as a way to project its fantasies, especially in digital and social media. Her series Pieces to be Touched, drives the visitor from unspoken and perhaps unacknowledged fantasy to the reality of the perception. This work aims at awaking consciousness, revealing this ambivalence between thought and action. She says of this piece “This piece of flesh to be touched is a wubby to be pet”. Visitors are encouraged to touch this piece of artwork.
Pen Dalton’s works are abstract, but convey emotion and the idea of some “psychological truth”. A Hard Place contrasts shapes which appear solid, hard and metallic, with a fleshy pink mass of colour. Pen Dalton says of this piece “this painting emerged at a time of personal conflict concerning the isolation of old age.” Ageing and the loneliness it may bring is often ignored in the UK, and is difficult for many to face.
“I am a visual artist based in Dublin, Ireland. My work is multidisciplinary, working primarily with photography and sculpture. My practice often stems from interactions with archival materials; I am interested in exploring fictional narratives that can be discovered in discarded imagery and objects, previous understandings agitated, and new meanings drawn out.
This is a page of a diary that I found in a thrift shop a few years ago, the diary is from 2006 and documents roughly 8 months of the life of a women who seems deeply unhappy in her life and marriage. The diary pages are accompanied by my own photographs that I have taken a means to unpack and understand this dark year for this anonymous woman. The work deals with domestic abuse and the cultural pressures to not allow the cracks in a relationship to show.”
“A visit to an abattoir led to a series of paintings based on this peculiar day trip with
Dad. The artist is suspended in the window - the shop front, inside the shop and the street are reflected behind. The piece is a complex play on different perceived picture planes. – an illusion of reflection and a personal encounter. Cheeky is a skinned cow head hung by its nostrils with its cheek steak removed - according to the slaughter-man a fashionable cut.”
“My most recent work addresses the idea of the body as documentary – the body documenting its own history. These pieces has been made in collaboration with people who have been courageous enough to send me images of their own bodies. Bodies that have been shaped or changed by time, gravity, accidents, disease, self-harm, surgery and often bodies showing damage sometimes considered ugly or shameful. I hope I’ve been able to show these bodies in a different light.”
Using subjects sourced from the media, film and photography, Sal Jones’ works explore human reaction and empathy on a personal level. She Was Quite Beside Herself is a painting of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in the UK after being convicted of the murder of her lover in 1955. Sal Jones says of Ellis, she was “a controversial subject who had the odds stacked against her as a woman - primarily due to her background, her profession and her appearance.” Violent crime perpetrated by a woman is often seen as more shocking than that by a man, perhaps due to the fact that it runs contrary to gender stereotypes, and therefore may be covered up by families and those affected.
Sıdallah is photographer and film director born in Turkey and based in Spain. Her work consists of projects exploring themes of Orientalism and feminism.
Her What is Inside series comprises a series of images representing the four elements. She feels that “the orient” is “the object of endless curiosity and an incomparable source for fantasies”, the Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East Asian cultures being formed into the notion of “the orient” by exploiting Western cultures. In Fire, Sidallah challenges European views of Islamic culture and tradition by showing a woman wearing a headscarf openly smoking a cigarette, something which may seem subversive or transgressive.
The Sons of Incoherence
The Sons Of Incoherence are a nouveau anti-art resistance movement where nothing is sacred, everything is acceptable. They have exhibited and sold worldwide, causing uproar and chaos along the way, including getting a gallery permanently closed, having fisticuffs with Tracey Emin, pissing off the Russians and having their collars felt by the gendarmes in France. Their name comes from The Incoherents (Les Arts Incohérents), a French art movement founded by Jules Lévy in 1882, which anticipated the avant-garde and anti-art pre-dating Duchamp and the Dadaists. They say about this piece: “I like phone sex because everything that is said goes un-said. As I wank.”
“Hidden was inspired by my insecurities about my body. This year, I have been dealing with difficult mental health issues. I found myself hating and treating myself terribly. With a healthier diet and yoga, I found myself getting stronger and finding self-love. These images are parts of my body that are hidden but I love. My neck will help me stand up tall and my ears to listen to myself.”
Zahra Mohamadi’s work examines aspects of her life as an Iranian woman. She looks at human experience and life, but with the filter of her own personal experience. She says that ways “in which I have experienced the force of men’s view in both my education and my career as an artist here helps to form my own opinion”. The piece Brooch is a “medal” of hair, juxtaposing ideas of masculinity, war and valour, with the feminine nature of the long plaited and coiled hair. The work may also be referencing the Islamic tradition of women covering their hair with a hijab, something which is mandatory for Iranian women when out in public, and the ‘taboo’ of women releasing pictures of themselves with uncovered hair on social media in protest.