FAT Project

FAT Project, Personal Projects, The Kiln Rooms/Ceramic works

I want to further develop my ideas around my body, how it feels to inhabit a fat body, and a non-binary body, and how it is viewed by the outside world. I still need to upload my FAT zine on here, which I want to make as a digital version as well, and continue on in that vein. As part of this I began making a sculpture a few months back in The Kiln Rooms, which I need to finish sculpting and then fire and glaze.

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Above: photos of the sculpture in progress- it is hand sculpted from white stoneware clay, and is a self portrait based on photos I took of my own body in the same pose (which I won’t upload here, for various reasons). I need to work on the legs, feet, and boobs a little bit more, but I am planning to leave it headless and arm-less, as I want to concentrate more on main body, and I quite like that it resembles a broken classical marble sculpture. When I have finished sculpting it I plan to fire it and glaze it with a white satin glaze, to give it the silky white texture and look of a marble sculpture.

I started making this as a way to come to terms with the reality of how my body really looks- selfies and photos taken by others often aren’t 100% honest depictions and I wanted to challenge myself to see myself in a more objective way, to help build on the vein of self love and acceptance I have been working so hard to cultivate. I am hoping to make more of these small maquettes, in different poses, as part of this. It also got me thinking- its’ resemblance to a classical marble sculpture made me realise we so rarely anything other than idealised versions of the human form in art, and particularly in sculpture. Even artists who sculpt self portraits and cast from life tend to be able bodied and cisgender, with conventionally attractive or at least socially acceptable bodies. I think it would help a lot of people who don’t fit these margins to see bodies more like their own represented in museums and galleries, as we have always existed but are too often left out of art and history for conforming.

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Above: images of works by Marc Quinn, exploring the bodies of disabled people, taken from his website

I am particularly inspired by the work of sculptor Marc Quinn, who has sculpted people with different disabilities. However as someone who identifies as disabled (due to my long term mental health issues) I find it somewhat uncomfortable that someone who is not disabled is making work about it. This is because it almost feels voyeuristic, and a little bit like fetishisation, although I’m sure it isn’t meant to come across this way. I do enjoy the idea of having these unconventional bodies created in this particular medium and put on display in gallery and museum settings- as I think representation and diversity are super important; but I think more needs to be done to elevate disabled artists and give us our own platforms to create, share, and display our works. This is a systemic issue in the art world that needs to be tackled and discussed by all of us. I would like to create work that explores and celebrates diverse bodies in a way inspired by this, but from the perspective of someone who actually has a body that doesn’t fit the norm.

As well as my FAT zine I also created the video “I Can’t Help the Way I Feel (My Fat Body)” in response to the sculpture “I Can’t Help the way I Feel” by artist John Isaacs, pictured below, and the drawing workshop  of the same name. This thread is something I am keen to continue exploring through various mediums, as it is important to me and a part of my journey in self love and self growth.

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I think further research and exploration into the subject needs to be done, which I am going to endeavor to do in my own practice going forwards with this project. I plan to start by visiting art galleries/museums to examine classical sculptures- I want to do some drawings and take some photos for inspiration and see where that takes me.

ENDLESS HOUSESHARE With Wank Collective

Exhibitions, Personal Projects, Uncategorized

The Working Class Artist Network (Wank Collective) put up an open call on Instagram for working class artists to submit work for an exhibition taking place across two abandoned houses in Peckham (Safehouse 1 and 2, ran by Maverick Projects). I submitted a proposal to include the 3 zines I have made this year- BPD & Me, the Brexit zine and FAT. I finished FAT specifically so that I could include it in this exhibition, which was actually a really helpful kick to finish the zine as I had got a bit stuck with it for a few weeks.

I was a bit anxious to be in an exhibition full of people I didn’t know, but everyone was really friendly and it ended up being quite healing to be surrounded by other working class artists- the art world can feel really intimidating and alienating to working class people so this was refreshing! I was also concerned that because there wasn’t a theme to the exhibition that it might feel a bit disjointed, however a lot of us were working with similar themes by virtue of all being working class, so the show actually felt well put together- Wank Collective did a brilliant job of curating the work so it flowed well.

I had a bit of trouble sorting out how to display my zines and got to the venue later than I planned on the day, because of this- luckily there was a fold up table not being used so I was able to use that. I originally planned to use a shelf but we could only use pre-existing holes and as I didn’t know the space I decided against that in case they weren’t the right height or width apart for a shelf. Then I planned to borrow a table from a friend but it was too low for what I needed. I then tossed around the idea of making a shelf out of white foam board and adhering it to the wall with sticky tabs before deciding it would look tacky, and finally planned to grab some cardboard boxes from Rye Lane and stack them (you can always find colourful fruit and veg boxes from the stalls) before the organizer told me there was a spare table in the venue.

It wasn’t ideal, but I think it fit in with the aesthetic of the venue well. I need to come up with something better looking for next time though! We set up the exhibition during the day then held the private view all evening, after which we then had to de-install and clean up the space. I think this worked for the space and I liked the ephemeral nature of the show as i felt it suited my work- zines are often very temporary, made on photocopiers, distributed and then forgotten about. In terms of how I think it went I am super pleased- from what I saw lots of people stopped to read my zines and I got a lot of positive feedback, particularly in regards to how I dealt with sensitive topics like my experiences with BPD and my experiences as a person inhabiting a fat body. The exhibition as a whole was incredibly busy, to the point where it was hard to move, and received an overall positive response which was incredibly gratifying.

Big shout out to the Wank Collective Team, who did an amazing job organizing and curating the whole thing!

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The exhibition poster

 

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A selection of the other works included in the show

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My zines in the show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MENTAL: An Exhibition Exploring Mental Health

Assessment, Exhibitions, Group Project, Personal Projects, UNIT 2

 

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The “BPD and Me” zine I made was made specifically for the exhibition I organized and put together for my society, The Mentally Chill Society.

As part of this I had to:

  • find out if there was interest from members of the society
  • find out what spaces were available at UAL for student exhibitions, then apply for the space (a very long application form was involved)
  • I had to attend a meeting to learn the do’s and don’ts of the space we were allotted- including the health and safety stuff
  • I then got a committee of society members together, they helped me to write the open call brief asking society members to submit work dealing with the topic of mental health, and more specifically their own experiences of it
  • Shridula put together the poster which I emailed out to society members and also posted and shared on social media
  • we then went through the submissions as a committee and contacted everyone who was successful
  • I then had to fill out a risk assessment
  • One of the members, Carmella, designed the poster, which I then took elements from to design the sheet with everyone’s names, courses, and descriptions of their work on for the exhibition
  • I also filled in an application form for additional funding from the Student Union to cover printing costs, costs of nails/tape/ect, alcohol and other drinks for the private view, ect
  • It was a real struggle to get everyone into the space to put their work over the two days we had to install but I managed, and we got everyone’s work hung!
  • There was a lot of problem solving involved- for example we realized too late that the labels were going to be too expensive, so we got number stickers for everyone’s work, and then had the sheet with all the info on it for people to take
  • the private view went really well and I got lots of positive feedback on the curation and for putting it together!
  • this was my first time organizing an exhibition completely from scratch, and my first time curating an exhibition- I learnt a lot about working with larger groups of people, giving up control to delegate tasks, and how to hang work that is vastly different in a way that works and shows everyone’s work in the best way

BPD & Me Zine

Exhibitions, Personal Projects, Photographs, UNIT 2

As part of an exhibition I organised for my society, The Mentally Chill Society, I decided to make a short zine exploring my experiences with Borderline Personality Disorder, which I was diagnosed with around two years ago.
I started by writing down the NHS definition, the causes, and the four main criteria for diagnosis, and began thinking about how they affected me, personally. I then made some notes, shown below, of objects/imagery I might want to use. It was at this point I decided I wanted to create the initial imagery for the zine on the photocopier, as I wanted it to look and feel handmade and erratic.
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I spent about a day in the learning zone, playing around with the various objects I collected from my room on the photocopier, including- fast food packaging, smoking apparatus, my old Barbie doll, condoms, anti depressant packaging, coloured paper, patterned paper bags, doll parts, and photos of myself. These were all things I felt represented different aspects of both myself and more specifically my personality disorder. Once I had the imagery I then used various pens and crayons to create the text and some other parts (such as the mood wheel) which I then added. The original double page spreads were A3 (so once folded it would have been A4) as I prefer to work larger then scale down my work in the next stage, for better quality. The finished zine was printed on A4 paper and folded down to A5.

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The next stage was to scan the pages so that I could edit them digitally on Indesign for printing, as shown below.

I printed a proof in black and white first to check that everything was in the right place, before moving on to printing in colour.

I then hand bound the book, using waxed thread for book binding, a bone folder, needle and awl, to make the holes.

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The photos above are of the Zine in the MENTAL exhibition that I organised, and set up, which I will post about shortly.

I Can’t Help The Way I Feel: Fat Bodies Drawing Workshop

FAT Project, Personal Projects, UNIT 2, Workshops

Do you identify as fat?

Would you like to draw and be drawn in a safe space for like minded postgraduate students who also identify as fat?
Join Kat Outten for a workshop ran by a fat Post-Grad student, for fat Post-Grad students.

Created in response to the sculpture by John Isaacs currently in the Medicine Now exhibit at the Wellcome Collection, fat is so much more than a body type. We deserve to celebrate and love our bodies as much as anyone else- to do so in this current culture is a rebellious act that defies social norms.

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(Image above used to promote the event, a photograph of the sculpture the workshop is a response to, printed in black and white, with illustrations of fat bodies drawn over the top. Photograph and drawings by me)

As part of my role as Post Graduate Ambassador for Camberwell I organised a drawing workshop, aimed at fat post grad students. The workshop was in response to a piece of work I find very repulsive at the Wellcome Collection, with the goal of creating a safe space for fat post grad artists to come together and celebrate our bodies. We ran the workshop on Monday 10th December at CSM for 2 and half hours, and I was very excited to meet fellow fat creatives. Unfortunately it didn’t go as I envisioned. There ended up being only two fat people in attendance- myself and my friend who is not from UAL whom I invited. The other attendees were not fat by most societal standards, and this was something that caused both myself and my friend a lot of anxiety. Where we had hoped to be in a room full of people like us, we instead felt incredibly anxious and judged.

It may not have been the intention of the other attendees, but when thin people invade safe spaces designed for fat people it leaves those who are fat feeling alien and excluded. Having to listen to someone talk about how they used to be fat, (FYI size 16 is actually the average size of a woman in the UK) how they didn’t feel welcome in some fat spaces, and about their fatter friends was actually deeply patronising and insulting, but we felt unable to voice these opinions. It made both of us deeply distressed, which was the opposite of how I hoped we would feel at the end of the workshop. It has taken me a while to write this blog post, as I have been trying to organise my thoughts and write about the workshop in a less emotional way, however I now realise that my emotions are a valid response, and I would be doing myself a disservice not to put them down.

The artwork that this workshop was a response to caused a deeply emotional and visceral response in me when I first heard about it, and even more so when I saw it in person. When you see something that is an exaggeration of what your own body looks like and you witness school children walk past it making disgusted noises and making comments like “ew that’s what happens when you eat too much”, amongst other things, it does not make you feel good. It made me feel sick, angry, upset, and brought to the surface all of the body image issues I have been struggling with since I was a child. The fact that fat bodies are objectified and ridiculed by society means that safe spaces where we can be ourselves without shame are deeply important and needed.

The vast majority of people who are not fat, and who have never been fat, cannot understand what it is like to exist in a fat body. Our bodies are constantly policed, every choice we make scrutinised; from what we “can” and “can’t” wear, what we “should” and “shouldn’t” eat, how much or little we exercise, to whether we need mobility aids, and how we travel.

When being fat is enough to have people bully and fat shame you in school, in shops, online, at work, on public transport, in court, –pretty much everywhere you go- it is a daily act of rebellion to even dare to exist.

I understand that anyone, at any size, can feel “fat” and struggle with body issues and self esteem, and I am not trying to detract from that, or invalidate their feelings. Diet culture, fatphobia, and our society’s obsession with the “perfect” body affects everyone, but those who are not what western society considers to be “fat” should be mindful of the impact their presence will have when they enter a safe space designed for fat people.

Safe spaces are not exclusionary, but by definition they should be spaces where marginalised people feel safe, comfortable, and able to express themselves- this can be difficult when people who do not share your experiences talk over you and take over the space. If you are entering a safe space that is not aimed at you (for example, if you are straight and entering a safe space for LGBTQ+ people) it is up to you to be thoughtful, considerate of your words and actions, and to listen to what members of that marginalised group have to say. Acknowledge that you come from a place of privilege, and choose to be part of a positive change. Ask questions, but respect that some things might be hard to answer.

This is not what happened at the workshop, and it was deeply saddening and frustrating. Going forwards I plan on organising this event again, outside of UAL, so that I can invite all the amazing, non UAL fat creatives I know from social media, and hopefully create the space I hoped for.

Below are photographs of some of the work created during the workshop, which came out really cool! So a positive amongst the negatives.