Working Class Creatives Database Reading Group- Session 1

Reading Groups, WWCD
This is a recording of myself and another member of the group, Lolly, reading out the essay “More Than Just a Dream Land: Why the British Seaside Means So Much to the Working Class” by Yvonne Singh, from the book “Know Your Place: Essays on the Working Class, by the Working Class” for the first session of our reading group. I have edited out our discussion of the text, so that this is purely the text, for anyone who missed the session.

This first group ended up being just the two of us, but I am hopeful that we will attract more members of the group as time goes on, and I am excited to see what happens and what we can learn from each other!

Feedback from WCCD Crit

FAT Project, Personal Projects, WWCD

I presented a sketchbook for a project I am working on called “Brown Bread Tastes Like Punishment” at the monthly Working Class Creatives Database online Zoom crit, and below is the feedback and the references I was given by other members of the WCCD on the call.

  • “Like the text and drawings- text is very punchy”
  • “Beautiful drawings”
  • Could I use the designs elsewhere- i.e. prints or zines?
  • Drawings capture a moment and record a memory- Ross said that the drawings triggers his own memories of his mum doing all kinds of diets, so viewers might have their own memories brought up when viewing the work, bringing their own things to it
  • drawings might be good with textures- paper mache, or ceramics like I showed on the Zoom call
  • try lots of things- film/prints/zines/sculptures/animation
  • catharsis through the physical act of making, versus the act of showing the work to others and opening yourself up to the feedback/criticism of others

REFERENCES TO CHECK OUT:

  • Lucy Sparrow
  • Jo Spence
  • Heather Philipson
  • Lindsey Mendick
  • Mystical Femmes
  • Mr Bingo
  • Sharona Franklin
  • Victoria Sin- drag artist, Glitch Feminism
  • “Virus” by Linda Stupart, gender, body, fatness

Some really helpful feedback that definitely made me feel more confident about this project as a whole- I entered the crit feeling like I didn’t have much to show and was unsure where to go with the project and ended up leaving it feeling much more confident in the ideas behind it, and possible avenues to take with it.

Covid Collages

Personal Projects

I made this series of postcards over the first lockdown using a mixture of illustration, hand writing and collage and have finally gotten round to scanning and cleaning them up on Photoshop to upload here and to my Instagram. These collages were made fairly quickly; acting as a way to get my worries, fears, and frustrations about lockdown and other things happening politically during this period of time out of my system and down on paper. I initially planned to send them to friends and family in the post, but ended up keeping them all. I find collage a useful way to make sense of my thoughts through found media (usually newspapers) and by limiting myself with the size of the postcard it enabled each one to represent a specific thought I had at the time.

in order, the collages above are titled:
1. “EVICTION IS JUST A PAYDAY AWAY”
2. “PANIC BUY TO STAVE OFF THE EXISTENTIAL DREAD”
3. “DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD”
4. “I’M FILLED WITH DREAD AT THE THOUGHT OF BEING A HOUSEWIFE”
5. “Quarantine 2020”
6. “GRABBING LIKE AN OCTOPUS”
7. “MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS”
8. ” TIME TO STRIKE, NO END IN SIGHT”

The collages above are titled:
1. ” BLOOD ON BORIS’ HANDS”
2. “JUSTICE FOR BELLY”
3. “WE WILL SURVIVE”

Tutoring Paper Workshop at 3rd Rail Print Space

Workshops

The images above are from the one day beginners Paper Printing workshop that I ran at 3rd Rail Print Space this weekend. This wasn’t the first time I have tutored a workshop, but it was the first time since before Lockdown, so I was a little nervous at first. We ended up having a slight hiccup where a few of the screens were exposed with the designs the wrong way round, but we managed to sort it out and get everyone finished on time with their limited edition of 10 prints, and we got good reviews! I am very pleased that I managed to handle the problem so well and it has made me feel a bit more confident in myself.

Antidepressant Monoprints

Personal Projects, Work in Progress

I made these monoprints back at the beginning of lockdown, to open up a discussion about the side effects of antidepressant medications, based on my own personal experiences with Fluoxetine, Citalopram, and Venlafaxine. I finally got round to scanning them and doing minor Photoshop edits (a little bit of resizing).

These are not all the possible side effects of these medications and aren’t necessarily the worst, but they are some of the ones that I have struggled with the most- and some of which I didn’t actually realise were side effects of my medication until I did further research. I would potentially like to expand this into a zine for people who are considering antidepressants- often medication is forced onto patients instead of therapy or delving into the reasons why people are feeling the way they are, and in a short 10-20 minute doctors appointment we are assessed (sometimes wrongly) as having depression and are given a prescription with very little explanation as to why they are being prescribed and the affects they can have on your body and mind. I personally have found medication helpful, but I think people need to know the full facts before deciding whether or not to take something. I am also considering redoing the monoprints over the top of the paper inserts that come with the medication detailing the side effects as a development, as I see these very much as a starting point.

BPD & ME

Personal Projects

I finally dug up the file for the BPD Zine I made last year and saved it as a digital version. If you have recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), know someone who has been, or would just like to learn more about the disorder please feel free to read and share this with anyone else who might need it. Bear in mind that no one’s experiences with BPD will be identical and this is based on my own personal experiences.

T-shirt Printing Workshop

Workshops

This weekend I assisted with a one day beginners t-shirt printing workshop at 3rd Rail Print Space!
We started off in the morning by running through the plan for the day, then encouraging everyone to either draw their design, or give us their digital design to edit on Photoshop before we printed it onto film for them. This was our first post-lockdown workshop so of course we had a few changes to make the the way we usually run the workshops- everyone needed to wear a mask at all times, we encouraged students to bring their own cups for hot drinks, and we offered gloves and hand sanitiser as well as adding extra cleaning into the day. We showed the students how to clean a screen ready for coating, and then we demonstrated how to coat a screen- usually we would then have each student coat their own screen, but to minimise the risks we had all the screens ready coated (apart from the demo screen we used). We then got everyone to bring in their artwork either on film or trace and lead them through the process of exposing artwork onto the screens and washing the emulsion off. Once the screens were in the dryer we then moved onto choosing and mixing colours, before breaking for lunch.

After lunch we took everyone through taping up their screens and setting up for the actual printing on the carousel, getting students to pair up to help each other print. Everyone left with their limited edition of 5 screen-printed t-shirts and were very happy!

Car Window, or Being Seen as a Fat Woman

FAT Project, Personal Projects

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Screenshots of a piece of writing I originally posted to my Instagram, about being perceived as a fat woman after an incident that happened during lockdown.

Transcript:

” Car Window (or Being Perceived as a Fat Woman)
You lean out of the car window and jeer at me
You say your mate wants my number
I hear you all laugh
As your car pulls away
This is the reality of being percieved
As a fat woman.
It started just like that
Back in school
A popular boy runs up to me
And says
“My mate thinks you’re well fit”
I see your group burst into laughter
I spit and curse at you
Before I hide in the toilet and cry.
It’s almost Valentines Day
And you, a popular boy, overhear me
Telling a friend I had never received a Valentines card
You come in on the 14th
Hand me a card and bar of chocolate
The card has a monkey in drag on the front
It says “Happy Valentines Gorgeous”
I laugh it off, like I’m in on the joke
And eat the chocolate alone in my room in the dark that night.
I have “boyfriends” in school
One of them is fat like me
But is still ashamed to be seen with me
One of them dates every less desirable girl in school
To hide the fact that he’s gay.
Dating whilst fat is a minefield
On dating apps I loudly declare my fatness
Lest I be accused of lying,
Called a catfish
Men send me messages that say things like
“You’re not fat, you’re beautiful”
As if the two are mutually exclusive
Or they say something sexual, no small talk needed.
I wonder
If their friends know they like fat women?
With every boyfriend I’ve ever had
I wonder
Do they only like me because I’m fat, a fetish?
Or do they like me in spite of my fat, is it something they put up with?
For a long time I couldn’t let my partners see me naked
I would keep my baggy tshirts on during sex
Or cover myself in lacy lingerie
Terrified that if they saw my stomach,
Saw how fat I really was,
That they would leave me
Disgusted.
It always felt like men saw me as fuckable,
Or not fuckable.
To be put into either category feels uncomfortable.
Realising that I am not, in fact, a woman
Realising that I am attracted to women
Has been liberating
Suddenly I don’t hate being naked
(at least not all the time)
Suddenly I am able to fulfil my own sexual desires and needs
Without shame
But that all crumbles away, when a man leans out of a car window
Jeering at me, a fat woman, out on the street.
I am back where I started.
Uncomfortable, lost, my confidence evaporated
Being seen as a fat woman, and nothing else. “

I envision this as becoming a spoken word piece at some point in the future, as I feel it would work well in that context- I get very emotional reading it out and that could work in favour of this writing.

BABEWORLD READING GROUP: The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction

Lectures/Talks, Reading Groups

The_Carrier_Bag_Theory_of_Fiction_-_Ursu

The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction by Ursula K Le Guin, lead by Elena

  • the human aspect- not sure if we agree that heroes are the driver of a story, necessarily- people in the modern day enjoy watching people do mundane everyday activities- i.e. ASMR videos, or the TV show Gogglebox
  • the container as the most important human invention
  • collecting and storing v.s. the spear and violence
  • you harvest something but you need to get the excess home, the excess that you cannot eat then and there
  • the container being more important than what is inside
  • if capitalism is the container- there might be one or two good things inside the container, but the container still needs to be changed/remade
  • oppressive systems and structures could be seen as containers
  • the work we make, as marginalised groups, might not be as meaningful or important if not for the “containers” we are in
  • are we submitting to the container by being part of it, by taking part- i.e. being working class and going to uni- are we becoming part of the problem (container)?
  • can we spread the knowledge and power we have acquired?
  • are we forgetting and leaving behind our original communities (containers)?
  • you carry everything with you- you are the container for your memories, experiences, ect
  • personally I think this text needs to be handled carefully lest it be spun and used for TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) rhetoric with the undercurrents of how the container is inherently female (Read: womb, the act of harvesting, home, childcare) juxtaposed with the spear- violence, thrusting, penetrative, adventure, male
  • I am not saying this text is inherently transphobic, just that we need to discuss these interpretations and be aware of them
  • this text is a product of the times- in the 80s Science Fiction was dominated by men, the “hero” role of fighting aliens, so as a woman Science Fiction writer at the time this must have been how she felt trying to write her stories at the time
  • Also in that era trans people had much less of a voice and presence, which is important to note
  • “It is the story that makes the difference”
  • the idea that people only want to see the extremes- easier to turn into a narrative, to simplify something and make it easier to digest, but doesn’t show the full nuance and scope of a situation. It is easier to visualise a hero saving a village than a mum feeding her kids, and you don’t have to learn from it or put yourself in it- because no one is that extreme
  • It’s easier to focus on one or two individuals rather than the whole system they are propping up and are part of- i.e. the current Dominic Cummings scandal- what he did was wrong and he should be fired, but the media focusing on him means that we aren’t looking at the wider issues- that the whole political party in power are corrupt and doing a huge amount of terrible things, that getting rid of him won’t really make that much difference to the bigger picture, he would just be replaced by someone else equally (or more) corrupt
  • the human connection can be really important; it can make a story feel more real, more relatable, you are more likely to learn something
  • “It is a strange realism, but it is a strange reality”
  • science fiction as an extension or mirror to reality, rather than a mythological tale of heroism
  • the book or novel as a container for a story, rather than a spear travelling in a linear direction
  • not relating to this violent hero narrative and deciding to create your own narrative
  • you don’t always have to be the hero of the story, you can be a villain, or just a person- not a hero or a villain, just a human being
  • the best stories are where things go wrong, or you expect something to happen and it doesn’t (or not quite in the way you planned/thought) and where life happens
  • life is messy and doesn’t always have a clear conclusion, needing a conclusion can be reductive
  • the world will always need saving somehow, there will always be things that need to change, there is no clearly defined finish line in real life

Anna Suggested this podcast, linked below: