Convict Blanket

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Convict blanket is the latest art activism works from concept-based arts practitioner, Alison Little. A sensation to shock and stand against rape, rape culture and the authorities put in place to tackle sex crime within our society.

Convict blanket confronts us with the homage style of using material available, in this case, the humble scratch provoking woollen coverings of the bed. The use of blanket stitch and appliqué reminiscent of techniques used in prison protests where all resources must be reclaimed from the sparse provisions available when incarcerated. The blanket is floor-based, slightly raised to one side. The text and images locate with the nearest edge in which they are placed, allowing the viewer to read the statements as their paths encircle the form. The use of hand-embroidered text reminiscent of the marker pen on corrugated card portrayals commonplace throughout activism. Texts vary in scale, case and font in regards to the emphasis placed on the statement which is being presented. Large bold statements often present definitive assertions, small joined-up style wording is often examples of dialogue and opinions of the minority. The black text looks to address how to reduce the numbers of sex attacks by convicting more rapists. In opposition, the red highlights issues within society and the authorities put in place to tackle sex crime which are failing at every given opportunity. Although male rape is equally as relevant, this identifies with female rape which is statistically committed in greater numbers.

The first of the black text presents a printed abbreviation, ‘HMP‘. This is commonplace within the UK, ‘Her Majesties Prisons’ being the full term and the title for units of incarceration. The larger appliqué fonts present ‘Convict‘ and ‘Rapist‘, indicating an intention for more sex offenders to be serving custodial sentences. This is emphasized in greater detail by a well-defined corner based statement:

We must press for the conviction of more rapists.’

A powerful sentence, stating the motivation behind the activism, the use of the second person to engage the viewer with the protest.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is common among rape survivors is raised within smaller statements. Dressing down as a result of being raped is proposed, backed up by an image of a ‘Hide under’ hoodie. Larger texts draw attention to statistics:

‘1 in 10 rapes are reported to the Police, of these only 1 in 10 lead to a conviction.’

Due to current changes within the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) this figure is currently much lower. The statistic highlights how rape is one of the most under-reported crimes. The statement is reinforced by the pie chart indicating that only 1% of rapes committed lead to a conviction.

Patriarchy is addressed, male supremacy being a factor in why rape is not being tackled effectively. Police apathy over sexual assault cases is presented. Demands towards the recruitment of ‘Strong, capable women,’ are made, requesting women who will prioritise rape over trivia to be brought into the Police Force. Drawing attention to the vulnerability of the rape survivor, showing how there needs should be prioritized. The black statements concluding with the most vital statement of them all, the rapist being ‘100%‘ to blame for rape.

The red text looks to highlight why our society is failing to reduce numbers in terms of sexual assault and punishing more sex offenders through the penal system. The large appliqué terms read ‘Rape Culture’ and ‘Victim Blaming’. Across the blanket, we have statements which highlight examples of victim-blaming, itself a factor within rape culture. Projections of low morals, promiscuous clothing, the rape survivor being presented as ‘The Whore’ and extreme example of ‘Slut-shaming’ are identified. Misconceptions around PTSD are given, many are still not aware that this condition is commonplace with rape survivors. The second delusion of rape being unusual is also stated. Narcotic and alcohol use are presented, suggestions that mild cannabis inhalation could result in hallucinations an example of ignorance. Again, blaming the victim through alcohol consumption, the concept of consenting to sex being overlooked.

Patriarchy being stated, showing the focus of the law to be on protecting men from being falsely accused of rape. How the Police Force is male-dominated, the notion of many of these ‘Men’ having little intentions of acting against rape, in this, recruiting weak, feeble women to actively fail rape survivors. This is developed by drawing attention to the actions of many Police Women, their sole contribution to a rape enquiry to be establishing what happens when they get dressed up, thus providing the opportunity for them to reflect on their superior beauty. The trivial nature of operatives, examples of attire being copied being prioritised as opposed to communicating the nature of the sex attack. This is matched by their counterparts, Policemen, many are only interested in their prowess, continually falsifying reports on how the rape survivor is attracted to themselves. Looking at the attitudes of Police personnel, those who feel that they are not expected to do anything in a rape case, the extremities being the role of the rape victim to protect and shelter vulnerable officers.

Ultimately, the saddest statement of all:

‘It was my fault I was rapped.’

The victims who blame themselves, a factor in why so many crimes are not reported to the authorities.

‘Convict Blanket’, innovative works, at the helm within the spectrum of art activism. Artwork which can challenge misconceptions around rape, concepts which can address issues in society and confront the authorities put in place to act against rape. Ultimately, ‘Convict Blanket’ will lead to the conviction of more rapists, reducing rape crime and proposes a safer society.

Convict Blanket will be exhibited from spring 2020.

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Bongo Bongo Bangs…

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James Bongo bangs on…..about many matters. The conscious Poet, humanitarian and ascending master performed at last weeks Fringe Festival Open Mic Night at Frederiks. He talks to us about poetry, life and beliefs.

In choosing from a collection of over fifty poems to perform at the event last week his work reflects his varied beliefs. He doesn’t abide by any religious controlling mechanism or any other ‘isms’, feeling that they are detrimental to society. However, he does believe in God, the Universe and the energy of love. His interests lie with social unrest and true history, not the nonsense we have been force fed.

Born in Liverpool and raised in the city centre, then Croxteth the youngest of eleven of an extensive very loving Catholic family. His parents and siblings liked a drink , this seemed normal to him, after his Mum and Dad passed away he drank to mask the pain. Things escalated:

‘I hit the wall with the booze.’

He knew he had to stop, he was harming himself, his family and his partner. They helped him through alcoholism so he could face life again. In cohort they fun an exciting family business, ‘Practical Magic Vintage’ based in Newington. James has been free from alcohol addiction for six years.

Attending college in old Swan he decided against Uni in favour of self-education. He looked at many sources of literature including Sumerian Texts and the Gospel according to Thomas. Studying ancient symbolism, he re-addressed the Bible, the Quran and other religious readings. In terms of writing, he began to produce works relating to the control of the masses through religion and schooling. Reflecting his view; ‘We are born free, we enslave ourselves in the mind prison, we need to free the mind and free the soul.’ His major works include ‘The failed indoctrination of a broke entrepreneur gospel, according to Jimmy Bongo’, this will be published in the autumn. In addition to the poetic works, he includes writings about his life and growing up in Liverpool under ‘Thatchers Iron Fist’ and those he has seen dye from drug and alcohol abuse.

Organizing several nights in Liverpool he is a leading figure on the spoken work front. ‘Freedom of Speech’ is a platform for performers: poets and musicians, to do their own thing, building a community of people to voice their beliefs. Second to this he holds fundraisers to help a domestic abuse charity, ‘Out of the Corner’. A friend of his, Dr Karen Johnson, set up the charity and is a survivor of domestic abuse herself. The night is a mix of poetry and music and a cause James is passionate to support. He is helped with both nights by his friends. His other life long friend peter, an expert with filming and technical matters we all strive to master.

The next Freedom of Speech night will be held this Sunday (05.05.19) at Dr Feelgoods, 57a Bold Street, Liverpool. There will be performances from many including, Electric Shakedown, Just Joe and not forgetting 1 cool Poet.

I shit my Pants

Jesus was a Chonger

Grab a Granny Night

Maggies Children

More about Out of the Corner

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