About Me

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Sydney, NSW, Australia
I'm an arts management worker/ artist/ designer. I work at Accessible Arts in administration and bookkeeping, but also work on various freelance activities from photography to graphic design. I'm Associate Partner at the ARI, the Big Fag Press, board member of Runway Australian Experimental Art and occasionally work at Bailey and Yang Consultants. My creative work has often been driven by social issues and commentary. This blog started as a way of documenting research for my honours year at uni, which I have continued, in order to gather inspiration for future artistic practice.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fashion Satire

I've just thought of something that seems to link all my research together - satire. Actually, I can't believe my cynical fashion brain didn't think of this before.


"I am sick of curves! I had a model in my show last season who was so fat she needed a bra".

Chic Shallot - another satirical fashion column.

I don't think there's a whole lot of theory written on fashion satire, because it's probably a fairly new thing - there's certainly a lot of political satire, but things like I hurt I am in Fashion are pretty new.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Controversial Advertisments

[Image embedded from website]

This advertisement for D & G's spring/ summer 2007 collection was pulled from circulation after both the Spanish and Italian governments demanded a withdrawal because the ad represented this woman in a situation that had elements of violence against women, and a submissive woman in the hands of male domination.

I completely agree with these statements. What message are we sending to the public here? D &G labelled the objections "a bit backward". Should we be moving forward to male domination and violence?

Bodies Talk

[Image sourced from AllWalks]

 I recently read an article called Bodies Talk by Caryn Franklin, the founder of All Walks Beyond The Catwalk which I'd grabbed from i-D magazine 2010, The head, the shoulders, knees and toes issue, pages 130- 131.

All Walks is a fascinating initiative, that I will dig deeper into for a separate blog post, but I just wanted to share some of what I perceived as 'truths' that spoke to me from this particular piece of writing.

This article, written during London Fashion Week 2012, targets how the fashion industry is an indicator of social change and dialogue with innovative designs and forward thinking, yet has such a retrograde representation of the human body.

Interestingly the ideals of modern society have this attraction to what is essentially an unhealthy weight for a woman, directly opposes subconcious biological genetic processes in the male brain for the purposes of evolution to choose a healthy female partner.

The article critiques the industry as "The Authority On The Way Clothes Look Best" for knowingly having a huge psychological impact on women, yet doing little to influence positive body image ideals and self esteem.

According to the article, whether the consumer is an intelligent self actualised woman or pre-teen (i.e intelligence, age, etc) has little relevance on the ability to think logically. When presented with fashion advertisments, the visuals impact the psyche on a subconscious level and the consumer cannot make a separation between the clothes and the body. This brings up a concept I have already spoken about in this blog about the goal of advertising in general being to make the consumer desire the product by feeling their own lifestyle to be inferior or as Caryn puts it "rectifying a Hopelessly Imperfect Existence with unnecessary purchases". There is little ability for us to think critically of images 'Gee, I wish I looked like her, maybe I should get that dress - hang on, even she doesn't look like that!', because "institutionalised body dysmorphia is a default setting for all of us".

Another issue I've spoken about before - airbrushing, is touched on in this article too. It basically says that the result of the manipulation of images means what is achieved is all the tiny things that make one body unique to another one are gone, and therefore we have "a repetition of the same unachieveable thing over and over and while we become more disoriented and miserable, the large corporate benefits." What happaed to beauty in the individual, the difference, the 'otherness'?

And this is not limited to the size of models. The scarcity of varying ethnic models on catwalk and fashion visuals could explain why Caucasion women suffer lower levels of self esteem than darker skinned women - as a white woman we're constantly being presented with images of what we "should" look like.

The article asks of fashion, "what if the entire industry lead the way in acknowedging what a powerful force it in in communicating to woman about their bodies, more powerful than music, sport, art and film put together, and Actually Did Something About It?" Obviously because of profit loss, established companies cannot afford to change their images now without risking a loss, so, as the article points out, it has to start within Fashion Educational Institutions, so that the next generation of designers/ creative directors/ stylists/ photographers/ etc are hell bent on promoting a revolutionary change in the industry and in the world of body image mental health.

Not to criticise my design degree, because I understand that we have a limited amount of resources within this degree. But the Womenswear fashion major students were told to aim to a size 9 model, because size 8 is a little on the underweight side and that's not what UTS wants to promote, and the models in the Graduate Show will be turned away if they are underweight. Well, firstly, I was at last year's fashion graduate show, and I did think there were a fair few unhealthy models included in the catwalk. Plus, we're constantly being told "Don't design for yourself, design for the market that's out there". I think the average Australian Woman is a size 12-14, so there is a certain irony to catering to the market by only creating clothes that look good on people who already look good. Using a size 9-10 model probably keeps you in the realm of a fairly healthy body, but we're still going for the thinnest possible ideal in the healthy range, which is not really a representation of the real world.

The industry may think that advertising their clothing on the most beautiful models they can find, is promoting their clothes in the best light. Well, studies show people would be more likely to buy clothes if they see them on a person who vaguely resembles them - age, size, ethnicity. Only, if they tried say, using a model for a photoshoot who's a size 14, they might discover that after grading to the size and essentially trying to fit that design to a larger person, well it distorts the original intention of the garment. So maybe we should have designers who start draping on size 12 or 14 mannequins - why should someone within the range of a healthy weight have to go to "plus size" stores to find clothing specifically designed for their body shape?

I liked this article. And I find myself constantly being highly critical of everything the fashion industry stands for. Well, also in our lecture this morning we were told industry members were excited about designers with ideas that could change their industry. Maybe I'm not as lost as I think I am.

 [Image sourced from AllWalks]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blind Date

[Image sourced from Wikipedia]

So, by chance I was watching a TV series today on Foxtel called "Dating in the Dark", which is essentially exactly as the name sounds - a reality show with contestants who have a series of dates in complete darkness supposedly to reveal their personalities, and then once they fancy a partner, they get to see each other in the light and the audience gets to see the superficiality that follows.

I wasn't so sure of the assessments made by 'psychologists' who gave percentage ratings on "compatibility" and "DNA matches". I don't think such things really exist or can be brought down to mathematics. This was probably added for entertainment value.

When it came down to it, what made or broke these couples up really did end up being superficial, no matter how much the contestants denied that fact or justified it with the "absence of physical chemistry" or the "not my type" argument.

Then I got thinking about clothes, and other ways almost everyone these days manipulates their bodies in some way. I see myself as a fairly non-judgemental person, and yet even I was thinking "hey, you have a bit of a bald patch, so maybe the long ringlets of hair isn't the greatest style for you". The things about one of the girls that bothered my boyfriend was her fake looking eyelashes and the length of her fake nails. I mean, these are things that can so easily be changed or manipulated - nails, hairstyles, body shapes, clothes, jewellery, body hair, tattoos, makeup...  essentially all things which can be grouped into the genre of "fashion".

When one person on the show essentially was very attracted to another person and all that was broken over something as small as long hair and glasses, you have to wonder what have our standards of appreciating a fellow human being become?

Obviously unless you're on a reality TV show, sight is our first and therefore default way of sizing up another person. But if we're really letting small things that can easily be changed stand in the way of the possibility of happiness, love, etc etc... it makes you wonder what you're missing.

Maybe it just comes down to exactly how much that girl was attached to her fake nails and eyelashes.

So is this kind of fashion helping us see people, or blinding us?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Street Photography

I took Photography 1 as an elective a few summers ago even before the year I spent in France. I just took a look at one of my assignments from that subject and discovered that I've been interested in the ideas of individuality and "masks" for quite some time.

"In the many odd experiences I had in photographing strangers on the streets of Sydney, I realised
that each person, whoever they may be; has a mask or masks which they essentially show the
world. My desire to break down the masks was difficult. I soon realized that my best photos were
the ones where built up a small rapport with my subjects and got them to trust me enough to work
with me in showing what I wanted to portray. And whether or not they intended to, this meant
that in some way, they were posing for me even if they were pretending not to."

I was inspired very much by Weegee and Mary Ellen Mark, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Doisneau who seeked to, through their photographs and using varying photography philosophies, tell truths about events or people or things.

Here are some images that tell me some truths or stories:
*Images taken from respective photographers' published work or websites.


I must also mention the inspiration that came from my photography teacher Jon Lewis, inspiring not just through his own photography but through his enthusiasm, passion and humour, not to mention his activism in anti-whaling, promoting the detrimental effects of climate change, and of course being one of the founders of Greenpeace Australia. A big cheers and thanks to Jon Lewis.

My love of portraiture led me to taking photos of the homeless and buskers on the streets of Sydney. I would talk to these people, bring them cupcakes, give them some change, and tell them about my projects, and in return I got their stories, some hugs and smiles, and the chance to take their portraits.
*Photographs are mine.

I went to high tea at the QVB a few months ago. At the end of the occasion I took some left over little cakes and tarts with me in a box for a homeless man on Pitt st I'd seen while walking to the QVB that morning. The people I was with reacted in a way that admired this act, as if it would have been difficult for one of them to do it, even if they had wanted to. I guess maybe, I just don't see any boundaries. Nothing about handing a box of delicasies to a homeless man frightens me. But I guess people (even kind people) do feel a certain amount of apprehension. Which is maybe why I like talking to these people. Taking their pictures. I don't see a whole lot of difference between them and me, just possibly a series of unlucky circumstances. And I think everyone has a desire to "tell their story". To feel heard is one of few fundamental human needs along with food and shelter. I hope my photography helps tell their story.

As part of my pozible project, I'm hoping to be able to print some of these on the Big Fag Press.

A Quote

Fais du bien à ton corps pour que ton âme ait envie d'y rester...

I just saw a friend of mine post this quote on facebook. It roughly translates to "Take care of your body so your soul will want to stay there".

It reminded me of a few thoughts I've had lately, about the idea of our bodies as a "vessel". Which sounds slightly religious especially in the context of your soul wanting to stay in this "vessel", but I don't think it necessarily has to be viewed in this way.

I think sometimes (especially in youth) humans don't look at their bodies as something that is precious, that is irrepreably linked to their life. We often don't think ahead when we make choices in life, as to how those choices will affect our bodies.

How we view our bodies has changed a lot over the last few generations, and I think sometimes short-term self esteem and how we look, the things we like to do in our lives have blinded us to the fact that people used to place more importance on the long-term health of our bodies.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What If...?

The What If Project was part of last year's Art & About. People across Australia were asked to answer the question "What if..." in ten words or less, and the 100 most interesting responses were coupled with photographs and displayed on flags throughout the city and neighbouring suburbs.

[All images embedded from respective websites]

What if....

...we could start life at the other end?
...we thought of others for a change?
...I came by boat?
...zimmer frames were turbo charged?
...there was a cure?
...we listened to facts instead of opinions?
...the world doesn't end?
...we all learnt another language?
...the sea level in the harbour rises 10 metres?
...we smiled and talked to each other on public transport?
...you are not special?
...your current haircut becomes the ‘mullet’ of the future?
...we banned cars from George St
...we looked at it from your point of view?
...I became the first indigenous prime minister?
...what you get isn’t what you want?
...you’re dreaming right now?
...we could all dance like michael jackson?
...every time you wake up you were in a different body?
...you look up?
...money was free?
...gay becomes the new straight?
...we all switch off our phones?
...we never stood up for what we believe in?
...we could change the past?
...your mum and dad didn't meet?
...someone is checking you out right now?
...university was free?
...we install lie detectors in parliament?
...art was a slow release drug?
...we weren’t at the top of the food chain?
...Australia was the centre of the earth?
...we stopped reading books?
...speling at skool was not compulsory?
...Sydney had a world class metro system?
...the change we want to see in the world happens?
...truth mattered?
...we all lived in a refugee camp for a week?
...we were prepared to sacrifice comfort for change?
...ten words could change the world?
...street art was legal?
...Picasso had painted the opera house?
...greed didn't exist?
...we didn't gossip for one whole day?
...Sydney had less rules and restrictions?
...I had have kissed him that night?
...this banner started my artistic career and made me famous?
...no one was rushing?
...we introduced ourselves to each one of our neighbours?
...Melbourne beats us?
...only bicycles were allowed in the city?
...you had no fear, what would you do?
...everybody sang when they felt like it?
...life was one long musical?
...a dinosaur lived on top of our house?
....rugby and AFL were never invented?
...laughter was the only currency?
...I could legally marry the man of my dreams?
...the only answer was yes?
...we treated Aboriginal people like they owned the place?
...we stopped making excuses?
...we took time to listen and learn from our grandparents?
...we didn't fear change?
...spin class bikes were connected to the electricity grid?
...love is temporary madness?
...flies couldn't fly, would they be called walks?
...we did nothing, we achieved nothing?
...the world disarmed?
...there are new colours yet to be revealed?
...no-one was watching what would you do?
...we were all happy?
...you smiled at the person walking towards you right now?
...Australia become a republic?
...I had managed to catch the 8.52 train?
...we all knew each others name?
...we just stopped here and kissed?
...god had a twitter account?
...animals could talk to us?
...people actually said what they thought?
...we could harness the energy generated during a standing ovation?
...love was enough?
...Sydney had kept its trams?
...we didn't dream?
...frogs could breathe out rainbows?
...you are the alien?
...you couldn't lie?
...we all stopped and took the day off tomorrow?
...we had to flee Australia?
...'enough’ was the highest investment goal?
...you had to pay for oxygen?
...4 year olds ruled the world?
...we didn't want to live longer?
...my kids are able to marry anyone they want?
...nobody was normal?
...you stood up for yourself today?
...I took the step now to find my birth parents?
...we all spoke the same language?
...I returned their calls?
...plants could talk, would we listen?
...we all did random acts of kindness?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

EXPORT: Graduate Show

I found many things inspiring at EXPORT, the Visual Communication Graduate Show from last year. I thought I'd do a post to collate my inspiration.

*All images taken from the EXPORT Graduate show website unless expressely mentioned.

Karina Lee - The Space Between

This book inspired me both conceptually and visually. It presented a sense of abstract perspective on the world - that just like being able to read between the lines of a page, perhaps we should be looking for "the space between" in life, in the world. The typography, photography and layout work was inspired by a kind of unity between art and science. I believe the inspiration for the work was to discover a kind of beauty and magnificence in science. It made me think of ways to try and re-discover the beauty in what I'm about to undertake this year.

Emmalie Narathipakorn - Basically Happy

Basically happy was interesting to me because it incorporated quotes and opinons of individual people and the perspective of the concept of happiness through their eyes. I liked the psychology behind it - afterall, happiness itself is such a widely misunderstood and stereotyped idea, perhaps people of the modern world only know that they're happy when they're not constantly wondering if they're not.

Joanna Grygierczyk - Hunters and Googlers

I liked Hunters and Googlers because of the truth in the social commentary. And that truth is, when faced with a problem or a question or even a basic instinct, a world with access to the internet has a desire, sometimes beyond one that is rational, to "Google" the problem. I don't think I'm the only one who has, on a bored or lonely night typed the words I see below into Google, and wonder maybe if Google will respond. It made me recall a night maybe a year ago I spent a good half hour talking to Cleverbot, which through an artificial intelligence database of language basically responds to you in Instant Messenger as if it were a real person - mostly quite amusing.

Lindy Napier - Femme Enigmatique

This work mainly inspired me by the way the leaflet was put together - essentially a stack of folded paper circles glued specifically on 2 of the 4 edges. It was beautiful the way it opened out and presented the work in rather an abstract way.

[Photographs of Femme Enigmatique taken by me at the EXPORT exhibition]

Stephanie Hing - In Retrospect

In Retrospect looks at everyday amazing things that perhaps with advancements in technology and lifestyle, one day may be obsolete. I liked the concept and the photography.

Bettina Pham -Vanoir

The minimalistic photography in this project really appealed to me.

Chantelle Lorge - Today

Today is mostly a photography project collated within a book that looks at the transience of what seem to be unimportant events in one's lifetime, yet if for some reason (like Alzheimer's Disease), you would one day forget them, well, the tragedy of those lost tiny bits of beauty in a single moment. The classic lesson - Carpe Diem. 

Dena Taiebet & Kate Disher-Quill - Our Town

I've mentioned Kate Disher-Quill before, she and I collaborated in our Open House project. This is her sequel if you like, to that. She got specific quotes about the feelings of individuals in her city and did a lot of beautiful portraiture work, and then exhibited these pieces of truth on projections in laneways and cliffs. I like the idea of facing the truths about other people and being unafraid to speak them.

It reminds me of this quote I once heard -
"If we knew each other's secrets, what comforts we should find" -  John Churton Collins.

Teresa Tan - Sleep Deprivation and the Joy of Losing Grip

This video can be found on "Tezatron" Teresa Tan's website (which by the way has a lot of other cool photography and stuff). It's about a specific mental atmosphere about emotional 'inertia' and in Teresa's words largely inspired by the concept of "Weltschmerz".

Ashleigh Steel - Everyday, everyday

This here is another project that celebrates the seemingly banal moments of existence, but when you look a little closer at these things, you realise that sometimes the tiny stupid things are worth a thought, a consideration. I love the toothbrushes.

Thomas Fethers - En Masse

En Masse interests me both from an extraordinary visual and typographic element, as well as this witty concept which sees him looking at (and sometimes judging) Social Media as essentially, a faith or religion, which truthfully, sometimes it can feel a bit like that. The whole project is a satire of the contemporary world of facebook, twitter, posts, tags, likes, shares, pokes, etc. It's quite clever.