I write creative nonfiction, criticism and prose about women's creative practice, representations of femininity and modes of resistance. My writing is held in the Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths College and has been published in PIN-UP Magazine, MAP Magazine, NOIT Issue 5, The Pluralist, StillPoint, Girls on Tops; and featured in exhibitions including the Ashtray Show 3, at 4COSE. I recently, contributed to an anthology of new nature writing titled Field Work edited by Sarah Lowndes (published by UEA Publishing, June 2020) and was Co-Editor of the self-organised student-run and RCA-funded anthology Attention (January 2020). I studied BA Modern Literarture and Media, graduating in 2009, before working in arts higher education, fashion education and and freelance fashion journalism, writing for Dazed Digital, LOVE, CR Fashion Book and V Magazine and Jungle. From the accumulation of these experiences and a broader interest in visual art and culture, I knew that I wanted to write about surfaces and veneer and the textural qualities of dress and the body as projections - flawed or otherwise.
I wanted to find new or better ways to speak about it and to develop a creative research-based practice, develop a voice and more critically interrogate and reflect upon representations of femininity and the body through visual and textual representation - collective and personal.
School of Arts & Humanities
// AN AESTHETICS OF RESISTANCE //
I talk a lot about working from the inside out - from inside ourselves and it - bodies, systems, structures, spaces.
Artist Megan Rooney, who works in a sea of pinks, said “I weld paint in order to try and bring us back inside our bodies.”
The critic Lucy Lippard said about ‘starting with the self as subject, moving from the inside outward’.
At the heart of my practice are the ways in which we internalise and reconstitute assumption in order to form a mode of collective resistance. I am interested in how out of personal, nuanced works — in painting, text, cloth — women might gather together, to form a new aesthetics. Mistifying, veiling, obsfucating in abundance.
My projects return to a structural femininity and its voids. In the ill-fitting forms of Rebecca Warren, the viscerality of embodied space in Judy Chicago and CalArts' WOMAHNOUSE, the veneer of Colette’s short stories and Rose English’s performative femininity in porcelain veils and dressage gear; all through the lens of feminist frameworks. My masters was a deeply personal journey outwards — learning how to occupy space, a new kind of space in the world — and a sort of return. I learnt to have a voice, to question and maintain a criticality while pushing forward with personal practice and growth.
Abundance // build-up, drip drip, amassing, amounting, barrel, basketful, boatload, bucket, bunch, bundle, bushel, lashings, loads, lot, mass, mess, mountain, much, multiplicity, myriad, oodles, pack, passel, peck, pile, plateful, plenitude, plentitude, plenty, pot, potful, profusion, quantity, raft, reams, scads, sheaf, shipload, sight, slew, spate, stack, store, ton, truckload, volume, wad, wealth, yard.
Resistance // defiance, opposition.
Aesthetics // look, veneer, shine, spit, flesh, ornament, adornment, artifice, surface.
3G Index EDITED
Three Graces, and Voids is a reappraisal of femininity through the prism of the Three Graces from Greek mythology, drawing on art and literary criticism, cultural theory and autobiography. Emblematic of western feminine ideals, what do the Graces elicit and what do they leave unsung. Through direct address, and an implied dialogue with the three sisters, this work of creative nonfiction is a form of communion, a chorus of voices and a contemporary feminist text that proposes an aesthetics of resistance through women's creative practices.
It began as a pin-board, and a folder of things on my desktop.
A beacon, or light that despite appearances, was not a map, was not burdened with points or truths. Rather, it was a web, a lattice, a gossamer surface, a knot, a loosened braid, an aerated bubble.
The Graces, and their versions and cyphers beckoned me - hopeful? Lost? Desperate? - and I embraced them. And although I was alone at my desk amassing images and texts and thoughts into a final body of - or bodies of – work, it felt choral. People shared their versions, and visions and findings of the Graces. I spoke to the Graces, and other women spoke to me, through their practice - Julian of Norwich, Tai Shani, Judy Chicago, Simone Rocha - and I hope I have spoken back to them. As it took shape, two more women - Emily Schofield and Veronica Viacava - joined me and helped me turn it into a visual, material, object – a modest book - and for a moment, we were graces of another kind.
It began as a seed, and grew. And I grew with it.
In the spirit of growth, the project lives on, regenerating and growing new limbs and follicles and teeth, and as such I will share its breaths and surfaces, episodically, on these pages. They will be original and revised fragments of the text; things will slip, mystify and eventually fade out and new versions will materialise, ideas expanded, conversations generated.
Because this thing is too much. And never enough. Aren’t we all?
NOIT Scan 22
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Quadrille (Rose and Dancers Entering), 1975/2012 — Quadrille (Rose and Dancers Entering), 1975/2012, by Rose English, courtesy of Richard Saltoun.
Study for a Divertissement: Jo and Porcelain Cache Sexe, 1973 — Study for a Divertissement: Jo and Porcelain Cache Sexe, 1973, by Rose English
Writing the Body: a conversation with Tai Shani