I’ve always enjoyed painting people and capturing expression so I decided to paint a portrait for the final exhibition. I have no name for this piece as the purpose is for you yourself to assign this individual an age, sex and gender. With these in mind, my aim was to create a person who was ambiguous in all aspects and upon making a judgement about this individual you then question why you identified the portrait to a particular age, gender and sexual identity.
(HOW TO) SPOT A DYKE (working title)
Following the first session I decided to concentrate on what I call lesbian signifiers, i.e. things that identify me as a lesbian to anyone who looks at me (especially people I would expect to pick up on these signs). I was paired with Michelle for a photographic project. With the camera we were given we took photos of each other and objects in the space. Michelle took a photo of my right ear with the double women’s symbol earring (1) and of my left hand with its pinky ring (2). We also photographed each other in the mirror of a window (3). Later Catherine took a photo of my left ear with the labrys (a feminist symbol) earring (4). I then joined the drawing group and drew a portrait of Syriah while she drew one of me. The first of her portraits of me I found rather scary – rather like the wolf in little red riding hood. The second (5) reminded me of one of Alison Bechdel’s ‘Dykes to Look Out For’, shown here because it includes the rainbow cord for my glasses. I also drew my left hand (6).
At home I photographed some of the T-shirts I have worn at London Pride and realised that I had been a lesbian in London since I first came out at 35, so it is an important place for me. The T-shirts shown here are: London Lesbian Line (7); Older Lesbian Conference (8); Pride badges (9); Feminism in London (10) and This is What a Feminist Looks Like. I customised this by adding a double women’s symbol and a labrys (11). I have also included a photo of me (12) and one of the Age Concern Opening Doors bus at London Pride 2010 (13).
WaterFluid, Human ≠ Label, Queer and Proud & End of the Rainbow
When I think of gender and sexuality, one word comes to mind: fluid. Through WaterFluid I used water to represent the fluidity of gender and sexuality, the colours of the pride flag run into each other, overlapping and intertwining because nothing is fixed; gender and sexuality are fluid. Human ≠ Label is highlighting that we are all human, regardless of our identities and age. Queer is a powerful word that has a history of being used negatively towards people from the LGBTQ+ community; however it is being reclaimed – mostly by young people – to mean fluidity of gender or sexuality. As a young person who identifies as Queer, I felt it important to show others a positive connection to the word and to help reclaim it. I am Queer and Proud. Traditionally the end of a rainbow is thought to have a pot of gold and money is thought to bring happiness. When I think of a rainbow, it reminds me of the LGBTQ+ community, so at the end of my rainbow is a representation of my Queer family. Their support and acceptance and an environment where I can be myself is important to my happiness and wellbeing. This is my pot of gold.
Margaret Dawn Pepper
I often discuss with friends the idea that transvestites and transsexuals are caught between two worlds, often experiencing personal difficulties en route. So I painted this concept, where the person has one hand on the male side of a cliff and one on the female side. Then I thought that the arms resembled a cross, the picture then quickly became a crucifixion. I called it “Caught between two worlds and crucified for it”
Over the Rainbow and Looking at You Kid
This is me looking at you. But step inside and see some of the me’s: Philosopher, Dreamer, Changer and Proud Parent. I’m Over the Rainbow and Looking at You Kid. I’m of all the bars in the world you walked into this one. I’m with my hands cooking, cleaning, Washing up, Washing up. I’m John Lennon, I’m Jackie Kay, I’m Down to earth, I’m a Visualiser, I’m an ideas person, I’m doing Cuba’s work brigade, I’m Stopping the Clause, I’m a mum, a teacher and a carer, I’m organising in every way. I’m looking after, Remember to look after Yourself.
Age Is Not a Metaphor
This poster came directly from the interesting conversations we had in the project about age and the way people use it to mean more than actual years (‘he’s a very young 58’). I said ‘Age is not a metaphor ‘ and then realised I wanted to sum up my commitment not to perpetuate ageism using it this way. The intergenerational project was helpful in deepening my awareness of the way young people as well as old people are affected by ageism. I would like more time to design the poster though, and welcome suggestions.