Identity. Our lives are dominated by it but what does it really mean. The media has created a set of meanings about gender and we hear about it all the time in our everyday lives. As a socially-constructed set of behaviours, attributes and roles, femininity is used as a label to identify specific qualities that are more closely associated with being female.
So what does it mean to be female today? It is these constructs that both artists in the ‘Oneness’ exhibition examines closely. Because labels are meant to be agitated. Constructs around masculinity and femininity become theoretical fodder as an individual’s self-concept of identity changes.
There are a range of textile objects supplied in an overly female way from Laura McFadden amplifying the existing label of femininity but disrupts this through humour, illustration and words. In the very same way Hazel Roberts uses screen-printed images to convey the importance in breaking down female stereotypes, staging, revolution and political empowerment.
Through thoughtful communication, the power of words alongside this eye-catching imagery gives their work an independence of rational thought and logical judgement, not necessarily attributed to femininity (thanks to stereotypes).
Defying traditional conventions of compliance and vulnerability, the direct gaze of numerous females in the artworks isn’t determined to be submissive but one of forceful production. Production of wit. Production of strength. Production of spirit. Hazel’s work is playful yet arresting. You can visualise her breaking down barriers with insightful banter, much to her amusement. Laura’s colourful embroidered pieces belay the depth of meaning which asks you to look beyond the surface of what you see in front of you. Both artists ask you to think about what feminism actually is. If ‘Oneness’ is anything to go then its more than just a tube of lipstick.
On until 1st April
The Gallery at Bank Quay House
Warrington, WA1 1NN