Currently studying BA Fine Art at Central Saint Martins
The main drive behind my practice is to create work that functions as a form of activism for the vegan-feminist movement. Instead of using violent images to force veganism down the viewer’s throat, I attempt to elicit change with engaging images and text. My most recent work focuses on the decline in bee population, what it means for the planet, and how veganism can help. Attributed to Albert Einstein, it is estimated that ‘If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left’; an apocalyptic vision that stresses the importance of bees to the world’s agricultural economy. Bees pollinate 1/3 of our food and contribute £400 million to the economy, without them we would have to alter our diets and food would become more expensive. The ecological importance of bees is expressed in my work through images of fruit and flowers. Inspired by traditional still life and surrealist paintings, I’ve used fruits and flowers that could not exist without pollination from bees; for example, the pomegranate and its blossom depicted in my painting Pollinate.
The pomegranate does not only symbolise pollination, it also ties in the links between veganism and feminism. Animals are exploited for food, experiments, clothing, entertainment and as pets for human companionship. In a similar way to racism, sexism, and ableism, speciesism is the discrimination against a being based on their genetic characteristics. The prejudice devalues nonhuman animal life despite their capacity, as sentient beings, to think and feel; it assumes that being human is good enough to have greater rights than animals. Carol J Adams suggests that the suffering and violence nonhuman animals experience is interconnected with the oppression and objectification women experience under the patriarchy - for example rape and domestic violence. My painting is almost entirely red, along with the use of flowers, this connotes female sexuality and fertility. However, the splitting of the fruit and the blood red juice flowing off the canvas suggests violence as well.
Initially I found that painting was not effectively communicating my ideas, so I started to use 35mm photography to explore more images. These ideas were much clearer in my writing, so I experimented with writing poetry as well. The images and poems worked better together, so I made collages with them and had them printed into a book; also titled Pollinate. I also hand embroidered some of the images and poems, as well as William Blake poetry, which was a long process, but this allowed me to meditate on my idea while still making. The embroidery has a more domestic feel to it, which led me to transform the pieces into cushions. Using biodegradable buckwheat husks as stuffing, the cushions invite people to sit in the space. This creates time to read, either from the book or the text on the cushion, allowing people to think. This engaging way of viewing images and reading feels like the most effective form of activism to me.