Thursday 30 August 2018

Northern Art Carbooty 2018 - First In The Fight!

This Bank Holiday weekend saw Northern Art Carbooty taking place on a very wet and soggy Sunday at Sadler's Yard and PLANT NOMA in Manchester. Yet, despite the weather we had a great turn out of people coming down to enjoy the live art, stalls, workshops and artisan food. 

I was there with The Tattooed Lady, tattoo dispenser machine, to distribute my Manchester Suffragette temporary tattoos as part of a new commission to celebrate the centenary of women gaining the vote in the UK (as a side note: I've had several men over the course of this project who felt the need to point out it wasn't just women but working class men gaining the vote too, and, yes, I know, that was great in its own right! But for women this was a MASSIVE landmark that gave [some] females the right to vote for the FIRST TIME EVER! I really don't understand why this achievement should be somehow 'put in it's place').

Dressed as a Manchester Suffragette, I manned the machine and helped apply the tattoos to people attending the event. I met loads of interesting characters from Manchester and beyond, some who knew about Manchester's involvement in the Suffrage movement and some who had no idea. I met two ladies from Switzerland who told me the centenary for them wont be until 2071! The whole day made me feel really proud to be a Mancunian and champion what the original Suffragettes stood for. They truly were 'first in the fight' and thanks to their effort and sacrifices Manchester played a key role in women's history and helped to change the world. It was amazing to see so many people show their support by wearing a tattoo!

(These guys from America were some of the first to receive tattoos and loved them!)

There was a great atmosphere throughout the day and I was joined by some of Manchester's best creatives. Taking a stroll around the venue on my break I met some faces I'd not seen for years! It was good to catch up and also see some of the gorgeous unique wares made by local artists

 Manchester illustrator Stan Chow and his iconic women prints

Eva Elliot of Margo Ceramics and her delicate jewellery 

Also I want to mention the brilliant art of Cammy Smithwick, who I forgot to take a photo of, but whose work I have loved for a while now. It was fab to see some of her handmade trinkets that make me think of booty from a wacky Victorian explorers backpack: unique, exotic and full of stories waiting to be imagined.

Fellow commissioned artist Nicola Smith performed her piece 'Monument' as an ode to modern women and the lack of statuary honouring women from history around the UK. This piece was performed/danced against a range of different songs about female empowerment, funny and on the nose, it really left an impression.

You can see more images and see if you were one of the people wearing a tattoo on my Tattooed Lady Facebook page HERE and also more about the day on Carbooty's photos HERE. A big thank you to Liz and Charlie for organising the entire event and asking me to be part of it and special thanks to Samira who volunteered her time to help me apply tattoos.

Thursday 23 August 2018

Northern Art Carbooty is coming! Get your Suffragette Tattoos!

Not long now until Northern Art Carbooty comes to Manchester! I'll be there with The Tattooed Lady and a specially commissioned work to celebrate 100 years since women got the vote in the UK. I've been preparing my outfit for the day as I'll be appearing as a Manchester Suffragette to help rally YOU folk join in for the cause and get your very own temporary tattoo.

I have to say I'm really pleased with how these beauties turned out (see my last post to find out how I designed these tattoos). I wore mine for three days before if showed any hint of budging. Come along and enjoy a day of art events, stalls, food, workshops and more! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Northern Art Carbooty 2018 - The Tattooed Lady Returns!

The Tattooed Lady is an end of the pier 1900's style temporary tattoo dispenser I created three years ago for the launch exhibition at HOME in Manchester. She is an interactive art work with flashing bulbs and a friendly 'ding!' that offers audiences the chance to take a piece of art home with them, either as a keepsake for posterity or as some temporary 'ink' to wear proudly on their skin.

I am now bringing The Tattooed Lady to the Northern Art Carbooty next month for a new commissioned piece. August 26th will see me and the Lady at Saddlers Yard and PLANT NOMA in Manchester:

'The event is an extravaganza of art, craft, live performance, workshop activity, food and music. Northern Art Carbooty works with artists and designers to encourage new artistic collaborations with the communities located around the event'

For this new work I am concentrating on 100 years since women got the right to vote in the UK and I have been designing a special tattoo to celebrate not only this landmark event but also Manchester's crucial role as the place where women's suffrage was born! I love my city not least because it has a rich history of being bloody minded and bolshy but it has led many a revolution influencing social and political change.

I began by looking at famous Manchester figures such as Emmeline Pankhurst, Annie Kenney and Hannah Mitchell, all fantastic people in their own right. However I found the photos of little known Manchester suffragettes marching and being arrested really moving and inspiring. They brought home the fact that these women risked so much not just for themselves but for the sake of every woman since.

For that reason, rather than concentrating on one person I decided to design a Mancunian 'everywoman'. My suffragette was very inspired by these two photos; the first being two local women wearing news sheets as aprons...

Mabel Capper (left), who by 1913 had been to prison four times in the cause of obtaining the vote for women, and Patricia Woodlock (right) advertising a meeting to be held in Heaton Park, Manchester, Lancashire, 19th July 1908

...and this fantastic Manchester banner once lost in time but now proudly on display at the People's History Museum in Manchester. I think the words on this banner are so powerful and say so much about the city and it's people,

For the tattoo design I wanted to incorporate mills and factories in the image not only to emphasise Manchester's connection to Suffrage but also the fact that many women who became involved in the Manchester movement came from a working class background. With the city booming in the 1900's thanks to the cotton industry, factory work was a mainstay for many of it's growing population.

This was my first design and I looked to Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman for the stance. I always thought Lynda looked strong and assertive when she stood like this with her hands on hips. (Interestingly, Wonder Woman's origins come from a Suffrage background as the creator was a firm supporter of women's Suffrage and his mistress's aunt was Margaret Sanger, an advocate for birth control and a women's rights activist). 

The tattoos are to be just 2" x 2" to fit The Tattooed Lady and I decided once shrinking this design down that it was packing too much into such a small space. Plus I wanted to push the Manchester connection even more within the image so it would be more obvious. I tried playing about with scale and placement but I still thought the whole thing wasn't immediate or 'tattooey' enough (I do like the original image though so I may use it for something else in the future).

In the end I decided to focus mainly on the suffragette's head and shoulders and create a tighter pulled in design. I added a banner for the words 'First in the Fight' and also the Manchester Bee which reflects the city's history and continuing unity in the face of adversity.

The suffragette stands in front of the chimneys (a bit phallic I realised, but they do reflect the male dominance of the era) wearing her hat with its green white and purple ribbon symbolising the movement; purple for loyalty and dignity, white for purity, and green for hope. The white roses stand for the white that suffragettes wore on their protests and also more recently recalls the white roses worn by celebrities on the red carpet to support the #timesup and #metoo movements.

I felt that this image worked better overall and will have more impact when applied to the skin. With the design now sent off for printing I'm looking forward to getting the finished temporary tattoos in my hands and trying them out! You can get your own at Northern Art Carbooty on 26th August! You'll find me there with The Tattooed Lady appearing as a Manchester suffragette myself! More on that to follow, stay tuned!...