Whoever Knew?

Resonance FM’s The News Agents is a chat show. Two artists (one doing her talk programme and one a curator and gallery owner) natter about the big exhibition at the Tower Gallery in Barking Road. I contributed but never knew the brief. When I submitted physically my work after a long bus journey, I was asked by the young MAN if I were an anchor artist. When I asked what that was I knew I’d been told too much.
The exhibition was originally considered for funds as a pop up nudge to the First World War so much of the big art references that. The curator said she wanted to look to the future too so invited any women artist with a connection to the east end to submit a little framed piece. Those bits from what are obviously non anchor artists were put out for display on chairs which when lifted open make natural frames. Hmm.

The chat is all about stunning art from stunning women artists and how the title of the month long festival begs us to think about how women artists are pretty invisible in major galleries. Rebecca Feiner is honest and enthusiastic, energetic and non-stop who thinks about the common people. She likes witty work. She wants her artists to support each other and work together in the future, to share their spaces. Ah, good luck with that.

There was talk of finance and how the artists will receive a more generous payment than they would from most galleries if they sell. The sale prices range from £10-£10k. Imagine. one would need a big Lidl bag to get some of the installations home.
Great stuff Rebecca.

Champions: The Tour

On Thursday I invited Up Your Street seniors some of whom are artists and certainly all have seen many art exhibitions in their lives or so you’d assume plus two champions who’d been my subjects in acrylic and are seniors too. So it was a mainly old girl’s tea party when Eric hobbled in and disappeared after the fruit juice and tour.
Hackney Central Library’s community art space is ridiculous. The space is three trophy display cabinets and two pin board screens. The thing is it’s free, I recently paid to exhibit one A4 painting in a women only show miles away. The work had to be framed and ready to hang and I was given less than two weeks’ notice. I did it though because I was supporting east end women artists who could learn a lesson or two about supporting me. That could be just through sharing a Facebook status photograph and giving me some credit. I thought it was out of order to charge women to exhibit for International Women’s Day especially when the organiser was flippin’ funded. Still, my choice. I did find at the bottom of the email the fee for concessions so pushed in my squids.

The Champions Exhibition tour started with an oil pastels on thick black paper almost a metre square of local activist Claire who rejected my acrylic canvas because I had left out her spectacles which define her. Everyone loved the portrait with her wide and hooded eyes not seen at all when she smiles which is most of the time.
The first acrylic was of beautiful Theodora Cadbury who runs brilliantly Xenia at Hackney Museum, a coming together opportunity for refugee and indigenous women to get English spoken. I was able to promote Xenia from experience totally for I was a founder participant. Part of the pull of going was the outstanding and comfortable museum at Hackney which exists for the community. Take note you others.
Zeb Achonu in her lashings of paint and recently You Tube star at London Contemporary Voices to be checked on their Facebook page was next in line for championess. She in nose studs, and vulnerable huge eyes always in scarlet red lipstick founded MUSEfest, a women only musical experience and festival with Hannah Judson. My guests were open-mouthed as I told them how MUSEfest generated a donation to White Ribbon Alliance for global safe childbirth for every woman.
Hibo Wardere, fierce but approachable, campaigner against Female Genital Mutilation, will one day get her two canvases along with a deserved OBE from Queenie. She too is in the cabinet. She rejected my first canvas as she remarked it was half a picture whereas I wanted to capture her eyes which are sometimes doe’s eyes with thick black eyeliner accentuating them. Behind those balls of black is a heart swimming for women and abused girls.

Mary Fahey had hesitantly (first time she showed doubt) asked me if the woman behind the leaves was supposed to be her. It is. It’s Mary the DJ behind a net curtain, seeing what’s going on but surrounded too by plants, She is a garden prize winner from up in Walthamstow Village. If you get to the exhibition you’ll read why these women are champions.
Rosie Bancroft doesn’t know I painted her after Paul Floyd Blake’s National Prize-winning photograph. She is a teenager in my painting which was originally one of my “At the Swim” collection seen at Hackney and Stratford. Everyone wants that picture. Postcards are available as I put her up for auction.

BN Neu pushed until she got seniors noted and recognised as a group force at Tate Modern. She’s not finished yet. How is she not the old woman who can dye her hair purple? I captured her vulnerability and tenacity. People see a champion.
Ah, my beautiful paintings of Hilary, full of textiles and colour and Hyacinth, our Valentine’s baby enriched in her beauty and African-ness. Both paintings are layers of colour. Both paintings depict quiet modest women who know their crafts and share them. Saluted.
Jessica Brassica, lovingly called because she is of the Green. Jessica Green, lover of life. mover of spirits and champion in the domain of bodily health and wellness through breathing and self-knowledge. She’ll have a yoga class of one and keep a level of excellence for that one person who is as important as the crowd. Her beauty is often unseen behind her hair and glasses. In the exhibition she is rightfully exposed. She is beautiful.

Even in her ugliness knocked into her by abuse, Sonita as a painting is fascinating in the story behind it. Here is a young woman in a stained white wedding dress and veil screaming silently. This is from the character Sonita plays in her “Brides For Sale” daring video. We see the child in the bloodied face. Well done, Sonita Alizadeh.
Marcella has rich tones of brown, African brown, in her face with that tight-lipped smile. The brown is layered on mauve layered on yellow all done in the early morning hours when the repeated How to Paint plum in your mouth TV shows are switched off and the urban foxes come out to disturb security lights in their hunt for stale bread. Behind a charming and warm face is a lioness. Our champion was with us in the viewing line as was Claire.

Amanda, art therapist, stood glossed in golden nail varnish behind the Hackney Library cabinet glass, waiting to gently serve us in the community. She stands watching us as we almost miss her on a smaller frame. We did salute her.

Sylvia was hidden for a while but made it to the champions line-up with her striking hair and features accentuated by a golden eagle eye as she misses nothing and notes everything. She is currently working with BN Neu and I on a project inspired by Tammy Whynot regarding technology access for seniors who can’t.

Mother to many Katrina laughs in the cabinet. We automatically warm to this premier champion who without a second thought bundles her family into a van alongside sleeping bags and torches for refugees wherever and whenever. Since we first heard about Lesvos and Calais in 2015 Katrina was on the move, setting up collection points for refugee aid. It was I who was nervous to ask her to be a painted Champion for I was in awe of her. My contribution was to paint refugee scenes in a collection called “Save Our Souls” which was exhibited in Stratford. Every tenner was sent to Kat.

I was always mindful of seniors’ legs as we walked around and as my guests listened to me. Claire reminded me that I was disadvantaging the disadvantaged when I hadn’t waited for Eric with his stick. Some of us had drunk sherry and eaten sugar so we were quite high. I was high on sharing my art. The security guard came and told us off for laughing and disturbing the six people bent over and studying. Likely. Marcella was typically fuming. I had already introduced myself to the security staff and ignored what was said because teenagers were busy chatting and yowling in other parts of the library which is only quiet on a one hour slot from 9-10am. It’s a market-place otherwise.

On the day before, the real International Women’s Day, Tate Britain’s Soapbox lot of 25 had discussed the lack of visible and celebrated women artists’ work in the museums. With Soapbox,unless you’re at the scene, you’ll never know how it went. I was at Anna Alcock’s women and printing workshop in Walthamstow where we mostly senior women of the white persuasion listened to a rant about the same topic. I was surely at the scene listening to myself. This month besides having two exhibitions about women, I am highlighting modern day women printmakers to balance out so many things, one being the twee view of women as crafters like ole May Morris instead of women as machine operators in a man’s world. I e print makers like Antonietta Torsiello.

Printing From A Women’s Perspective

March 8th 2017 At The Mill Coppermill Lane.
It is International Women’s Day and so we were a dozen mostly older women after-hours at a workshop given by Anna Alcock of Inky Cuttlefish. Did we all know what special day it is?

Anna introduced vigorously the now quite hackneyed topic of invisible women artists. Noticeably, the Tate is up to its neck in events and films about said same.The assumption was that we in the room all knew nothing about the fact that art galleries hardly pronounce in blazes of glory the existence of women in art. Our local William Morris Gallery was cited as a museum which never promotes women artists. I managed to promote myself for I do have two solo exhibitions for IWD 2017 and then have a hung work in the Tower Gallery and that is an all-women exhibition. A passing seagull would have shown more interest.
“It is hard to be a mother and an artist”. It’s bloomin’ hard to be a mother. It’s hard to be a mother and any kind of creative. It has always been and still is and so the only way forward is to be pro-active, actively promote women artists because of their gender primarily and bring about change. I added in that women need to retweet women artists’ tweets and share information about women art exhibitions through Facebook and the like. They don’t. I have many exhibitions on at present and the amount of sharing of information is almost non-existent. Meanwhile I’ll be busily promoting people I don’t care about but in the name of women power it has to be. It was evident that many of the women there tonight for example do not use social media.
Most people do not share other women’s joy.
“It seems okay to promote women in craft but not in the traditionally male work arena of printing”.
We printed and made samples as mementoes of our learning.

issue 8 of Up Your Street

Finding free local events usually all depending for seniors around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Tues 7th Mar £1 10-1pm Hilary’s Tuesday’s Sociable Sewing at the Mill in Coppermill Lane E17. Parking restrictions in force ALL THE WAY down the lane.

Go enjoy sewing projects and a natter.

Wed 8th Mar free A few International Women’s Day events in a few hubs and churches. Tower gallery Barking Road in a beautiful church an art exhibition and attractions called “51% RememberHer” 6-9pm launch then the installations stay up until April 8th but not open every day. No disabled access though.

6-8pm at The Mill Coppermill Lane E17 Printing with Anna Alcock with women in mind. Need to book at £2 a place.

Hibo Wardere, local campaigner for education about FGM is presented with her award from WAW. Women Appreciating Women. Holiday Inn Regents Park. This is their highest award “The Honorary Award”. Congrats to our champion.

Bruce Castle nothing much to do with women A talk about the disappeared buildings of Tottenham Free.

Thurs 9th Mar free 11.30am At East London Radio hear Hyacinth Myers talk about her living up your life to good living with her Soul Conscious Creations enterprise.

free 4-5pm Claremont’s launch of an art exhibition called “Paradise”. All welcome. Nibbles and smiles. White Lion Street.

Sat 11th Mar free Canning Town Library 5-7.30pm screening “Bridget Jones’s Baby”. Book at Eventbrite.

Sun 12th Mar free 10-noon Walk on the wildside. A springish walk over at Walthamstow Wetlands. Book at Eventbrite.


Old Lady Talking or spare me a rib.

If I hadn’t had done my own Champions project I would not feel in any way a celebrant of International Women’s Day. I feel no spirit for art exhibitions under the banner of the day. Business people have a 51% targeted market like Dove does in their all-encompassing every shape and nearly every shade women presenting adverts and can make money on renting venues, painting the purple, green and white and setting their agenda. Art, whether women’s stuff or not, is business.
I distance myself from gatherings which welcome women with their children. Give those mothers a chance to be labelled women.
I goggle at adverts welcoming mothers and teen daughters the opportunity to come together to learn how to apply make-up.
I hear nobody talking with interest let alone passion for the day which became a month in some places and morphed into Women’s History Month in Tower Hamlets. I read daily reports from women activists on Facebook and prefer to be acknowledged as woman all year around whether I be phenomenal or not.
Men shrug and tell me they aren’t interested because they are geezers.
Outfits say they can’t get political.
Mostly all my peers have no knowledge of the day.
All the forty-somethings, dragged to women’s day creches in the eighties by their washed and pressed dungaree-d mums have other fish to fry.
Women on remote islands get to grips with Zumba and have no interest in fighting for equal pay when their seventy hour weeks and pitiful financial returns are shared with the men on the farms in sleet and worse.
And “Bridget Jones’ Baby” screened because it’s International Women’s Day. No.

If there’s a clique. a group celebrating and acknowledging the day, that’s what they stay as; no tactics operate to include others.

Years ago at a women’s day thing, I pushed past the snogging lesbians and the smoking guns to register my workshops. Ah, that enduring format.
“What have you come as?”
“I’ve come as a socialist feminist. That’s what I’m here as”
“I’ve come as myself”.
_______________________________________disappointed in east London

Took my painting along to the Memorial Church in what feels like the posher end of Barking Road to the Tower Gallery. Been there before but still got off at the wrong stop. Silly me. I have included myself in the 51%RememberHer IWD2017 art exhibition. Well, the curator included me. The launch is on March 8th. Go along; it’s all free. I’ll be at The Mill on Coppermill Lane printing from a woman’s point of view with Anna Alcock of Inky Cuttlefish which I booked ages ago. During the few weeks after IWD, the east end women’s art is all available to see for free at the Tower Gallery on Tuesdays and weekends. It’s still a church, see. They don’t know that I have two of my own IWD 2017 exhibitions Champions, paintings celebrating women now. and Headscarves 1950s.

It is a fact that Champions was constructed as a project with two senior women coming together in joined spirit to celebrate and share International Women’s Day. There was art by myself and there was to be radio. The art is well and truly up in Hackney.
For the radio there was a music list of songs sung by their women song writer authors devised and delivered by musicians in our community. All the promotion and flyers designed by myself are out there in the community. Glitches aside, we push on.