Masks: Why now?

 

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Today marked the mandatory rule for face coverings to be worn in all retailers or the possibility of a £100 fine in the UK. Yet, why now, we must question, at the height of the pandemic we were free to shop without the insistence of masks?

At the start of lock down, we were clearly informed that face and mouth coverings were non-essential. Calls of ‘No use’ dominated the news waves and how the virus could be easily caught through the eyes, repeatedly, put forward. Information for the World Health Organisation (WHO) was misleading, the Ministry of Health providing ‘Miss Information’. The Government is accountable for mixed messaged which resulted in only 35% of us wearing face masks before today’s current legislation was introduced.

From this day, 24th July, they are deemed compulsory in shops and enclosed indoor spaces. They are to be worn to order take-out, but not the eat-in in cafes. Pubs, barbers and hairdressers are also exempt from mandatory mask-wearing. The reasoning behind this: the government now state that face coverings are effective in halting the spread of the virus. Infection rates for retail workers have been significantly higher than average. The reasoning behind the change in direction: claims of a better understanding of the virus.

Mandatory or Madness.
Masks mounted on our mouths.
Maybe: mandatory in March!

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Mask embroidery Alison Little

Modeled by herself

I May Destroy You

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I May Destroy You

A staggering 6 weeks ago, when lock down restrictions were beginning to ease, our TV screens and minds were illuminated by: ‘I May Destroy you’. I, myself, who fared badly from the pandemic, was starting to recover from a long tail case of Covid-19. This drama series was the primary broadcast I was desperate to watch. Its impact is set to last far beyond the 6 hours of air time which the BBC allotted. 

The main narrative centres around the rape of the Arabella; the feisty, strong-willed, leading lady. Michaela Coel who wrote starred and co-produced the series plays Arabella. The realistic screenplay leads us through flashbacks of her being raped. In reporting the matter to the Police they were able to establish that she had been subject to date-rape drugging. Perhaps not so realistic: the Police are shown to be professional, compassionate and supportive. Inevitably the case had to be shelved until a DNA match presents itself to the investigation. However, what is ground-breaking is we see Arabella: a hard-partying recreational drug user, convincingly being able to differentiate clearly between being secretly drugged, then subject to intercourse and simply, narcotic indulgence followed by consensual sex. At no point is the viewer directed to blame Arabella due to volatile lifestyle choices or to consider her to be unreliable as a consequence.

Arabella’ response to the violation could be considered from varied viewpoints. Promiscuity as a result of a sex attack liberated sex-positive behaviour or further examples of not fully consensual sex as a result of drug and alcohol usage. This leaves her vulnerable to a further sexual assault, interestingly in the form of stealthing: removal of a condom without the consent of the sexual partner. I and many viewers, male and female, were unaware that this was a criminal matter, the show was surprisingly informative.

We are offered some reasoning as to why Arabella’ sexual conduct presents us with a large variety of partners, many of whom are little more than acquaintances. The series takes us back to her infancy, parents who reside separately, but are still in a relationship. A father who indulges in a ‘Fancy Woman’ and to a degree, neglects his parental duties.

Breathtaking to see greater diversity on our screens, the main characters all being from ethnic minorities (Within the UK, not Globally). I found Arabella immediately appealing, the funky jacket and the wilds of pink hair. Terry, the loyal friend that every girl need to have, both are: fun, alluring, party goers. In opposition to this, the only more than minor white female: Theo, is overweight, unattractive and morally warped. A wondrous mid-series episode takes us back to secondary school, only done successfully in Romy and Michele’s High School Union during the late nineties. The retro-fun element of camera phones being new, hilarious in comparison to the multi-faceted smartphones of today. We see the only significant white, female character, falsely accuse a black man of rape. Equally to this, it becomes clear that Arabella’ rapist was white, herself being of colour. Is this a lesson for white supremacy, are matters being transformed in terms of traditional villain, victim roles in terms of race?

As a white female, I found some of the script a little isolating, the dialogue of:

‘I don’t like white people.’

stated by Terry. The scene in which Arabella takes extreme offence from being referred to as being from an ‘Afro-Caribbean background’ as opposed to simply of ‘African background’. This combined with making the medical professional linger while they shoot a podcast. This did not appear to be an act of standing up to racism, more the conduct of adolescents that belonged in a classroom seated next to Catherine Tate’s Vicky Pollard.

The range of taboo subjects brought to the drama was radical, in the extreme. The casual use of sanitary towels, menstruation no longer to be hidden and ignored. However, I found the scene in which she brings home a Man which she has just met in a night club off-putting. They endeavour to have intercourse while she is on her period. This combined with them both playing with her heavy, ‘Squishy’ discharge bordering on vulgar.

We are introduced to group sex on several occasions and internet dating, which pre-Millennial’s didn’t indulge. Significantly, the concept of social media addiction is raised, something we are all beginning to ponder over as a result of lock down and periods of isolation. Primarily, we are embraced by the subject of male rape, a major taboo, the public only being widely aware that this happened since the turn of the Millennium. Although the male rape scene was convincing, I was deterred by the response of the character. Devastation, regret and self-blame were not conveyed convincingly.

Although there were some downsides, this is a monumental step forward in challenging the many failings within our society; primarily rape culture. The ambiguity of the concluding episode adds to the mental turmoil over violation and redemption. The series instigated discussions and debate, a drama which will get us talking about rape.

Set to take the short trip over the pond, let’s hope Arabella & Co, can do the same for the Americans!

Watch the Series

Stealthing

Missed: Mrs America?

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Wednesday night saw the TV series Mrs America hit our screen in the UK. The series dramatises, more than documents the path of second-wave feminism in the United States.

The initial episode centres around Phyllis Schlafly, played by the Hollywood great: Cate Blanchette. Schlafly, a staunch anti-feminist who lead the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Many hold Schlafly accountable for the bill never being passed and eventually abandoned in the early eighties.

Schlafly, the women who Betty Friedan, mother of seventies women’s movement, insisted should be burned at the stake. The Republican who led a league of housewives, home-makers and churchgoers against the progressive feminists of the day.

Growing up during the great depression, Schlafly had a modest upbringing, her father of long term unemployment. Motherly support of her education steered her towards a scholarship place at the now named Maryland University. In tangent to her studies she worked as a model, but she also ‘Test fired machine guns’ for the largest munitions factory in the US, World War Two raging across the Globe. Eventually studying post-grad at Harvard, then becoming a researcher for the Republican Party.

Marrying a wealthy lawyer, fifteen years her senior, resulting in six children. Author of many publications the most notable: ‘A choice, not an ego,’ selling over 3.5 million copies, highlighting matters in opposition to National defence strategies.

After another unsuccessful run for Congress in the early seventies, she turned her attention to women’s politics and battled successfully against the ERA. The main policies were in favour of women remaining exempt from the Draft, Vietnam was at war and American troops were being sent East. Other motions looked to protect social security benefits for dependent wives. Although her eldest son was openly gay she stood by conservative policies against single-sex marriage and anti-immigration.

The dramatisation brings the seventies to our post lock-down TV screens. Brown patterned floral prints, chunky jewelry, twin sets and hand knitting. Hairnets and curlers creating the bouffant of the day. Although an anti-feminist, Cate Blanchette portrays a strong, capable woman, more than a little opposed to being assigned the role of note-taking. We see a true beauty parading the national stars and stripes in the form of a bikini.

In opposition, we encounter bad sex aesthetics not spoken about during the decade. When exhausted she submits to undesired intercourse with her demanding husband. Lying back motionless as he ploughs internally with no regard for her pleasure, indulging in merely his gratification.

What next for the series?

Although slaughtered by Gloria Steinem in person, her character was introduced and takes the limelight in the next episode.

A drama to be indulged, not a doco to be scrutinized!

Watch on BBC iPlayer

Fine Art Cocktails

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Too many ‘Sex on the Beach’ for Tracey Emin, the ‘Shaggy’ years, Margate’ solution to an easy ride throughout the difficulties of her adolescence.

Sarah Locus stirred a ‘Cosmopolitan’ to remind her of the metropolis, the capital now she has moved to rural Norfolk.

The man who screen printed the stars from his down-town New York Studio; Andy Warhol, poured a ‘Manhattan’ over ice.

David Hockey throws back an ‘Americano’ he’s been in LA so long her can’t recall Yorkshire and his routes.

A ‘Russian Mule’ for Kandinsky, transporting all to the awe of his abstracts.

Judy Chicago passed a ‘Bloody Mary’ the first female artist to utilize menstrual blood within her work.

A few to many ‘Ginger and Cinzano’ for Frida Kahlo, hitting the bottle, backwash over her divorce from Diego Rivera.

‘Long Island Iced Tea’ in access, like everything else, including women for Jackson Pollock. Hopefully, no automobile accidents on the peninsular as he makes his way home.

Note: a fiction works, many of the artists featured were lost to the World many decades ago, only their great works remain.

 

Recycled Tampons + er, do I have to?

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So you’ve moved with the green revolution: recycling, re-using carrier bags and you endeavour to sort waste for compost. Due to lock-down you’ve reduced use of the vehicle and invested more time to walking and cycling. The next step: they want us girls to use re-cycled tampons, your first thought?

Someone else’s discharge! ew…ew…ew.

Your initial intention: to reduce your carbon footprint by all other means keep sanitary produce; new, pure and cleanly raped.

It’s time to re-think the matter of eco sanitary products, they are not what you imagine!

1.5 billion sanitary products are flushed down the lav every year in Britain. An average woman will use 11,000 sanitary items over her lifetime. It’s time to consider greener alternatives.

Okay, I understand recycled tampons are actually made from used tampons, but aren’t they less pure?

Wrong – many are actually made from organic cotton and often, unlike regular varieties, free from chlorine bleach. They frequently exclude rayon and chemically produced fragrance. If polymers are used, medical-grade is usually stated. Further claim to be hypo-allergenic, highlighting their superiority to standard produce.

Are there genuine environmental benefits?

So, so, many: regular tampons are around 90% plastic and ultimately not biodegradable, taking up space in landfill and the oceans of the planet. Green alternatives use cardboard applicators, paper wrappers and compostable film. Some utilise re-usable applicators which are purchased separately.

Any other plus factors?

There are animal cruelty-free and vegan alternatives, some donate to charities that act against period poverty and FGM.

Then there’s straightforward vanity: the packaging looks amazing. A luxury supplied in a 5-star hotel or first class lounge at the airport.

So are you with me?

Yeah, I’m with you, recycled tampons are for me and forever!

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The Man Who

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Dave, my partner died from covid-19 during the pandemics deadliest week in Britain. This poem was written for him and read at his funeral. Due to the circumstances only 10 could attend the service and we were seated 2 metres apart. Now, as we progress towards some kind of pre-coronavirus normality, only without Dave and so many others, it feels right to reflect on those lost to the pandemic.

 

The Man Who

Dave; lost 3 weeks ago
Covid-19 took from our throw
Laughing, joking till the end
Paramedics struggled, too late to mend

Never shy
Tears, to cry
To show emotion
Animated in notion

A time of lock-down
Leaving house necessity bound
Bars void of serving beer
Brass’ brandishing running gear

Shutters shut on Breck Road
Supermarket queues overload
City traffic ghost-ridden
Parks crammed, exercise-driven

Countries closed down globally
Coronavirus expands robotically
Fatality toll gets bigger
Home death’ omitted figures

An engineer well-travelled
Shores and jobs marvelled
World wide memories collected
To all, much respected

Nigeria
Nicaragua
New York
New Orleans
New Mexico

Dry docks of Cammell Laird
Oceans of the Med
Sights few make comparison
Might of Hurricane Alison

Should Athletico have come
3000 fans, epicentre were from
Post pandemic, answer we will get
Till then we can only threat

He could do the Twist
Dancing moves blitz
Sofa based arm bopping
Laughter, joke swapping

Boris got Better
Death count fewer
Fate, the decider
Dave smiles wider

Up there in heaven
Still a lover of women
A flirt and a tease
Eager to please

To remember:
the jokes
the laughs
the banter
the frolics
a man never afraid to say that’s bollocks

The Man Who was Davy Jones

Alison Little

Brit Pop Guitar

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The Brit Pop Guitar is a sensation: Visual arts meets music culture with the dynamism of the Nineties which we all love to remember.

The iconic Union Jack which was imprinted on many of the bands of the era immerses within the surface of the guitar. A gritty rendition, presenting many blemishes, reflecting the disenchantment of the decade.

An unusual vision of beauty, the sexy NHS spec wearing girl, projects from the base with the same impact she made in the Pulp’ Common People music video.

Towards the lower section, we have a crowd at the festival which pre-dates Christianity: Glastonbury. Taking us back to a simpler time when entrance meant scaling the fence, away from the inflated cost of festival tickets commonplace within contemporary culture.

On the other side of the bridge, two fingers affront our focus. The insult which many, Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, in particular, brandished throughout appearances. A decade which encountered economic decline, instigating uprisings of dissident activism. The generation which fought back against the raw deal they were inheriting.

Centrally we engage with the Oasis symbol, the motif printed over two levels, dominating the sound-hole. Rendering Britishness, red white and blue, backing the stretches of the guitar strings.

Negativity and dissatisfaction, prevalent of the era, is projected from the upper section:

‘Modern life is Rubbish’

A term coined by the staple of Brit Pop: Blur. The graffiti-style conveys the widespread anti-establishment dissatisfaction of the Nineties.

Butterflies flutter over the neck of the instrument. Our late Millennium radio stations were taken over by Richard Ashcroft of the Verve belting out:

‘Don’t go chasing butterflies.’

A sobering, reflective lyric in a time when heroin was being widely consumed across our nation. A drug which had not only engulfed our cities but had filtered out to our towns and villages.

The head-stock displays one of Noel Gallagher’s acclaimed anoraks. Oasis refashioned the anorak, making it desirable once again. Iconic of Britain, not only due to the protection it offers from our frequent rain showers, but equally re-visualizing the white on the red of the St Georges Cross.

The three-quarter sized Brit Pop guitar is set to make as much impact as its full-size contemporaries. A spectacular string instrument which reminds us why we still celebrate Nineties Brit Pop.

£350

Contact for more information.

 

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1970s: girls now get wet!

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Learning to read, the ultimate voyage of discovery for today’s youngest, but this has been the custom since literature became widely available in the nineteenth century. We look at the differences in culture, relationships, and gender in the reading books of the sixties and those of the seventies.

In the books of the sixties, the body language of boys is confident and pro-active while girls are more cautious. Boys take on more active roles when playing games and getting wet, girls sit sunbathing and keeping their delicate dresses smoothed in place. Leaning out and taking risks is commonplace with males, while the females shelter and ensure they remain safe. Boys run speedily ahead taking the frontward position as girls lag dramatically behind.

We address a common Ladybird book published during the sixties: ‘Happy Holidays’. Traditions of the British sea-side holiday are explored throughout ‘Happy Holidays’, ice cream treats alongside the ritual of a pot of tea.

In the books, the girl appears to be much more advanced than boys at academic tasks, such as reading and writing. All the children featured are white and often Aryan, most appear to be British through traditional attire. Boys clothing is much more practical, T-Shirts and shorts while girls are dressed in delicate sun-dresses. Girls are shown to be interested in traditional female pursuits, identifying wild-flowers.

The seventies saw revolutionary progress in the content of children’s reading books. In this, we identify characteristics of the Ladybird classic, ‘Out of the Sun’.

As of the previous decade, the cover presents us with an image of the boy ahead assisting the weaker female. Boys are drawn toward hunter-gatherer activities while girls occupy themselves with female pursuits, such as picking flowers. Again the girls seek out feminine activities while the boys occupy themselves with the use of tools.

Aryan culture is being promoted, however children with varying hair colours and alternative features are now included. Although the children are predominantly white, those from ethnic minorities are now being visualized as active members of groups of friends. The notion of healthy eating is introduced and the ideals of patriotism presented through the Union Jack duvet cover. Girls now wear practical clothing and are clad in T-shirts and jeans. Rough and tumble games are explored by females, a girl tackles a dog with a walking stick. However, most revolutionary, we now see a girl getting wet and enjoying water sports games. Soaked in water, drenched through she emerges from the swimming pool, triumphant in her games play.

In the space of a decade, we move from girls sunbathing as boys play actively in the water to girls being fully emerged in water and pro-actively involved in pool sports. Although traditional male and female pursuits are still being presented in the seventies, the more practical clothing of girls is a significant step towards equality. The inclusion of ethnic minorities can be seen as a progressive move. The decade which embraced second wave feminism influence shown through children’s literature, a decade which laid the foundations for the gains we benefit from in contemporary society.

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Flies of Beauty

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Flies of Beauty is the latest painting from North West based Artist: Alison Little.

She explores a range of diverse techniques to create this groundbreaking example of visual arts.

The work is 60 cm square, her work being of these proportions in format. The flat panel uses a box mount to set out from the surface of the wall. Acrylic pouring techniques were used to create the backing tones. The surface was added to using a bamboo drip pen, creating texture within the image. A vinyl cutting process was embraced for the butterflies, acrylic paint was scrapped on using a squeegee, they were then carefully located onto the surface of the painting.

Uplifting art created during a time of crisis.

£120

Contact for further details.

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