My work over the past year has focused on and explored ideas of ‘ultra-femininity’ or ‘girly-ness,’ fear in relation to the female body, and at the tensions that such ideas create within individual and societal experience. I am interested in subjects connected with gender and body- image and the wider question of aesthetics and sexuality. I find inspiration in overt displays of 'feminine' expression in contemporary social media culture and popular aesthetics. My work aims to dispel hierarchies that determine “high” and “low” art.
Feminist theorists suggest that such aesthetics are a reflection of an external power structure, which forces women into certain roles, and commodifies sexuality and beauty in the interests of capitalist economics and underlying patriarchal power structures. However, the choice of those who embrace this aesthetic as a personal choice which is perceived as liberating (most prominently in internet culture: e-girls, drag artists and make-up artists), cuts across ‘traditional’ feminist ideas about this subject and thus creates a fascinating area of tension and conflict.
I ask: to what extent does the 'hyper-feminine' ‘Barbie’ aesthetic mirror an innate aesthetic response, an instinctive pull towards a particular personal or sexual identity? And, or to what extent is this imposed by oppressive and restrictive structures outside the self? ‘Hyper-feminine’ colours and subjects are generally aligned with “low” art. Despite the fact that they provoke excitement and delight in their intended audience, they are generally perceived, in the context of “serious” art, as tasteless, crass and primitive. My art is intuitive and deliberately non-rational, drawing on visceral experience, half-remembered encounters and dreams – and in this respect aligns more with the psychoanalytical or subconscious approach of Surrealist art. My primary aim is to create a personal artistic language that investigates aspects of the maligned aesthetic of the ‘ultra-feminine,’ and to bring it into the domain of fine art.
Russian and Eastern European culture are significant areas of influence and inspiration given my own identity as half-British half-Russian. My work draws on and interrogates Russian religious and folk iconography - focussing particularly on how aesthetics both shape, and are shaped by, tradition, allegory and symbolism.