Tuesday 23 February 2010

Women of the web, I need YOU!

Yes, that's right, I need your help to begin an new art project that will take place on this very blog! As you may know, I am a fine artist and I specialise in celebrating femininity. My favourite subjects include vintage styles, pin -ups, films and burlesque. Over time I've delved into many facets exploring the nature of femininity through showmanship and theatrics.

I now want to begin a new study into that very same subject, but on a level which most women adhere to. Ladies, I want your dressing tables!

Well, actually I want photos of your dressing tables: To a degree many women put on a level of 'show' by transforming their appearance from day to day. I am a huge fan of cosmetics, and costume, and I live by the mantra I inherited from Dita Von Teese, 'Never underestimate the power of artifice'!

I have a new series of paintings in mind where it is the apparell and belongings of the subject which tell the story. But in order to gain a good insight into how this might work I want to begin by looking at the starting point of many women's days, the makeup station. The place where the magic happens! Just think what clues a ladies dressing table may tell about her!

I don't want images of perfection, I want photos which show how you left your dressing table this morning, your hair brush, make up brushes, lotions and potions, nic nacs and gee-gaws!

I then intend to post your photos weekly on this blog and build up a collection of images which might say more about you than any portrait ever could! This could be a really fun interactive project and I would love for you to get involved!

If you would like to participate I need these things:

A good quality photo of your dressing table
( It's completely up to you how you photo it )

Your name
( you will be credited for you image )

Your country of residence

And your age (but that is not compulsory!)

If you have a blog or website please also send the link which I will post alongside your photo

Send all images and info to: gemma-parker@hotmail.co.uk

Please be aware your photo could be posted on my blog available to view by everyone on the web! If you are uncomfortable with this let me know. All photos will be part of research for my paintings so elements of them may appear in forthcoming art work.

One last thing: Thank you!

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Burlesque Undressed!

Continuing the vintage burlesque theme, I just wanted to share the fact that Immodesty Blaize, Britian's number one burlesque queen, has currently got a new docu-film out called Burlesque Undressed. This dazzling account of burlesque through the ages with a special nod to the neo burlesque of today will be aired on the big screen at Manchester's Cornerhouse this Saturday! Make sure you catch it, and don't forget your tassels!

Burlesque Undressed (rated 15)
Saturday 20th Feb 10.30pm
70 Oxford Street

Tuesday 16 February 2010


Scarlet Fever portrait www.gemmaparker.co.uk

The other weekend I spent a lovely time in North Wales with my good friend, the fabulous Scarlet Fever. Scarlet's story may be known to some of you; She took part in Channel Four's Faking It Burlesque Special which aired in 2006. She managed to fake her way from insecure body conscious cleaner to glamourous showgirl burlesque star and picked up a whole bunch of confidence and sass on the way!

I was inspired to paint Scarlet's portrait as the Queen of Hearts as her story touched so many people and gave countless others the kick they needed to shed thier own insecurities. You can read about the project HERE

While living it up on the Welsh Mountains we watched an interesting DVD detailing the rise of burlesque and giving info about the original stars from old. This made me think about which perfomers of bygone years I have found inspirational. So here's my top three burly queens from the golden age:

During the 1940’s Gypsy Rose Lee was an innovator in her field taking the art form to a whole new level by emphasizing the ‘tease’ in striptease and using a casual strip style, compared to the herky-jerky styles of most burlesque strippers. She also brought a sharp sense of humour into her act as well, becoming as equally famous for her wit as her strip. Gypsy Rose Lee was also a writer and penned the mystery thriller ‘The G String Murders’ later turned into the 1947 film ‘The Lady of Burlesque’.

I borrowed the film 'Gypsy' a film about Gypsy Rose Lee's life from Scarlet as I'm ashamed to admit, I never seen it! I can't wait to watch it!

Dixie Evans was hailed as burlesques answer to Marilyn Monroe. Although Monroe was the sex symbol of the day she never appeared nude or semi nude in any of her films. Evans, with her strong resemblance to Monroe cornered a market by performing like the blonde bombshell on stage in a much saucier manner. The real Marilyn Monroe was too inaccessible to your average joe, but Evans could let these men's imagination run wild. If you couldn't have Monroe, you could have the next best thing. Even though in her late 60’s Evans can still be seen appearing in burlesque tours! She also is the conservator of Exotic World keeping the memory of classic burlesque alive.

Originally starting out in silent films Sally Rand went on to become a dancer when talkies were introduced. She became infamous for popularising the fan dance which has been reproduced and copied ever since. The elegant fan dance involved Rand appearing on stage sparsely dressed or apparently naked but hidden between two enormous feather fans which she then proceeded to swirl and move lithely about her giving the audience a glimpse of leg here and a flash of shoulder there!

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Suzie Sequin caricature

Last month the super cute Suzie Sequin approached me about creating a caricature for her burlesque act. I was very excited as I knew that Miss Sequin had all the components I love to work with when drawing; long luxurious hair, red lips and kick ass costumes!

My business is all about celebrating femininty. I love to work with theatrical concepts and showy pieces. Suzie has a broad range of acts from the exotic red roses and love hearts she wears during classic routines right through to a Marilyn Monroe tribute act where Marilyn shows off more than just her love of diamonds!

Suzie wanted a caricature which combined both her classic burlesque and Marilyn inspired act. I began by thinking how the two characters could work in one image and I suddenly remembered the famous photo of Marilyn with Jane Russell used to promote Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

I liked this back to back idea with the girls both leaning outwards from eachother, giving them a fun over the shoulder pose which invites the viewer into the image. I then penciled out my idea for Suzie's picture. The most time consuming part was making sure I captured Suzie's essence in the caricatures features and form.

Once happy with the final look I outlined the piece in ink. I gave the work a slightly tattoo/showgirl feel which I felt suited the subject matter. This is burlesque after all and the key is variety!

To find out more about Suzie Sequin go to www.myspace.com/misssuziesequin

If you are interested in getting your own burlesque/glamour caricature designed especially for you or even as a gift for a loved one please contact me!

To see more examples of my caricature and portrait work go to my website and click 'other projects', or click HERE

Tuesday 2 February 2010


Standing next to my kitzch painting, Miss How Can I Help You?#1

Last week I attended the opening night for the Waterside Open Exhibition. I was blown away by the high standard of work and the sheer variety that appears in the galleries situated at the Waterside Arts Centre.

Walking in on the night filled me with different emotions. Firstly I was surprised by how busy the event was; the place was packed with artists and art lovers and the amount of work fills not only the main gallery but spills out into the foyer and through to a smaller gallery near the entrance.

It was eye opening to see my own work displayed next to other pieces that had no connection to it. I think I can't have been the only artist taking part who realised that they're not the only one hidden in a studio busily working away!

People can still vote for my work in the Visitors Choice Award. So if you are planning a gander, my work is situated in the gallery off to the right of the entrance!

Other news:

Yesterday I recieved a lovely attachment in my inbox. Just before Christmas I was interviewed for Freeq Magazine. Freeq takes a close look at happenings in the worlds of music, gigs, art, fashion and nightlife. Here is the artilce profiling me and my art work! Click on the image for a larger version.

The magazine is out in hard copy too and availbale to buy from the Freeq website. A big thank you to Martin Gutteridge-Hewitt for intervieiwng me and producing such a fab article!