Angela Carter breathed fire into my soul

Sitting here on International Women’s Day, 2015, wondering which woman to nominate as an inspiration or great influence on me, and realising that there are far too many to mention. In my life I’ve had the good fortune to meet all sorts of amazing women; the strong matriarchs in my family, other mothers at toddler group in the 80s who I now see active in all sorts of interesting places, my friends and their humour and strength when faced with the battles of everyday life, and my three amazing daughters who are so strong and so talented. I thank all of them for being there.
In terms of publicly known women I would have to nominate all the authors who I read avidly as soon as I understood what those scrawls were on the printed page; from Frances Hodgson Burnett to Joan Aiken to Hester Burton to KM Peyton to Ursula Le Guin and oh so many others, with their wonderfully brave heroines who I so desperately wanted to be. And then, Angela Carter, who I read in 1979 as a young mother in my late teens, and who made me feel that I was not mad or bad but just not acquiescent, and that there were people out there who thought it was ok for women to think dark thoughts and take action to break through the stereotypical ways that women were meant to behave. She was a great antidote to the other depressing books I read in my early teens about “Girls In Their Married Bliss” and living in L-shaped Rooms. Angela Carter breathed fire into my soul.

Then there are the political women, so many young fiery and feisty bloggers that I enjoy following on twitter, especially those with a sense of humour. It was Caitlin Moran who made me feel that it was ok to publicly call myself a feminist again, with her wit and enthusiasm for life. I’ve just been reading a blog post which mentioned Louise Michel, aka The Red Virgin, that I came across while reading all the tweets for #IWD2015. I have her autobiography somewhere on my shelves. It was bought for me by an ex-partner who (I think) was trying to be sarcastic, and I found it fascinating. One thing that the blogpost says about her is:

“she simply regarded men’s and women’s rights as equal and acted accordingly”

I think that sums up the sort of women I like to hang out with.

 

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Wings of glass rod feathers

Wings made of glass rod feathers

from an exhibition of contemporary Chinese ceramics and glasswork at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery

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This is the doll

costume doll

that my father bought me when I was very small. He was a teacher accompanying Surrey schoolchildren on a cruise around the mediterranean and visited “the Holy Land”. He made the trip twice, each time he bought me a doll – this one is from the first trip. He also brought back an Ali Baba linen basket – I can still remember the smell of the rushes – and a leather pouffe.

She is battered and moth-eaten and her skirts are no longer stiff enough for her to stand up, but she still has beautiful hands. I keep her in a box to keep the moths at bay, and she leans against it, looking towards the window.

 

 

 

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In the footsteps of giants

I’ve just got back from spending five days in the company of a lovely bunch of fellow writers. I’m exhausted! I was lucky enough to get on to a course at Arvon in Hebden Bridge on writing for games, run by David Varela and Jon Ingold.

Amazing place – once lived in by Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath (and yes I did make the pilgrimage to her grave nearby) and now a house full of photo portraits of all the writers who have tutored the residential courses.

What a week!

I’ve come home with a head full of ideas and under strict instruction to not be hesitant about calling ourselves writers.

So. I write, therefore I am a writer.

 

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Reverent Actions Book

I just got back from three days of intense book development in Newcastle, working on the creation of a tangible object that captures the output from the Reverent Actions (action)research project. We inhabited a small room at the Newcastle Arts Centre, a group of people who have been involved over the past couple of years (is it that long?!) coming together again to shape our discussions into something shareable. We think we have cracked it, with some very helpful input from Andrew Wilson . It’s always good to get a fresh pair of eyes on something you have been immersed in for a while.

Constance

 

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A new year & new projects. 2014.

Well here we are in 2014 and we are all busy getting on with different projects.

Emily is working with Sunshine on the exciting Skype Collaboration Project and has just got back from NY Fashion Week and plunged into London Fashion Week.

Harriet is organising various events and festivals around London/Southbank, working on LOCO and BFI Future Film, as well as trying to find time to explore her own filmmaking and creative work.

Constance is working on various writing projects and her most recent creative foray was at the Global Game Jam at Bristol Games Hub, where she worked on a slightly gruesome AR iPhone game with Ben Trewhella from Opposable Games. She is also still involved in Reverent Actions (the AHRC-funded connected communities funded project) which is currently developing a final publication for sharing.

 

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What Happens After The Ball?

featherhouse were once again invited to show work for Decima in an exhibition, this time in London at a temporary pop-up gallery in collaboration with Jackie Clarke and Nomad Galleries – What Happens After The Ball?

Adapting the photo collage technique used for the Britain’s Rubbish exhibition, featherhouse again allowed romantic fictional characters to invade well known tourist spots. This time in giant form, and in Picadilly, spreading the big love at the nation’s dazzlingly colourful home of Eros and er, Coca-cola….

The A3 print outs were positioned near the thermostat in the gallery… sizzling!

after the ball

Nomad Galleries, Jackie Clark & Decima present

An art show not to be missed nor sniffed at

W H A T?H A P P E N S?A F T E R?T H E?B A L L ?

Adam Dant + Stephen Gill + Mark McGowan + James Hopkins + Vicki Gold & Alex Fear + Simon Ould + Brian Morrissey + Eleanor Lindsay Fynn + Mark McGowan + Joy Collie + Ingrid Z + Piers Wardle + Jackie Clark + Laura Oldfield-Ford + Louise Camrass + Micalef + Richard Niman + Gilbert & George + David C West + Derrick Welsh + Alex Chappel + Angelica Fernando + Byron Pritchard + Dr. Adolf Steg + Emma Andrews + Emma Forsberg + Featherhouse + Francis Farmer + Geoff Hautman + Geraldine Cox + Geraldine Ryan + Harriet Fleuriot + Ian Wright + Jackson D Ferguson + Jenny Gordon + Josephine Ada Chinonye Chime + Julesy P + Katarina Forss + Kate Ketchup + Larry McGinity + Louise Loudoun + Mark Reeves + Mel Simone Elliot + Natasha Morland + Oliver Dungey + Richard Starbuck + Rob Sargent + Rudi, Count Phalle + Takayuki Hara + Tom McDougall + Rose Mouton

Dress for after the ball.

We cannot emphasise enough, this event is strictly INVITE ONLY. To gain entry you MUST rsvp here as “coming” or go to www.decimagallery.com and follow the links. This is a legal requirement of the venue so there will be no exceptions, sorry. Get on the guest list.

What happens after the ball??That’s what I want to know.?In the one step they all hold you so near?and whisper things that a girl shouldn’t hear.

But in the two step?They have a new step?that isn’t in the dance at all.

And when the band began you’d have a surprise.?You could tell their thoughts by the look in their eyes?If that’s what they do when they’re dancing…?What happens after the ball?

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featherhouse at Tate Modern

On the weekend of 12/13th December 2009, feather house went to the Tate Modern for Rob Pruitt’s Flea Market, where we were selling more romance-themed items on the Tate Modern  Turbine Hall Bridge– beating heart books, prints from Britain’s Rubbish and What Happens After The Ball, as well as some beautiful lighting inspired by exploding males torsos and a tombola style lucky dip where you win a saucy novel with the naughtiest bit bookmarked by an original featherhouse postcard. Ooh la la!

Here’s the info about Flea Market:

“Holiday cards! Ornaments! Garlands! Mixtapes! Crafts! Artwork! Clothing! Gifts! Photographs! Fruitcakes! Stockings! All by your favorite artists, celebrities, and other surprise guests!

A festive reprise of Rob Pruitt’s Christmas and Kwanzaa (an African-American festival) version of the ‘Flea Market’ event, programmed to coincide with the exhibition Pop Life: Art in a Material World, in which Pruitt also appears.

Originally held at Gavin Brown’s Passerby gallery in New York in the late 1990s, then featuring artist peers including Elizabeth Peyton, Piotr Uklanski and Rikrit Tiravanija, Pruitt’s Flea Market is a playful take on a curated group exhibition cum entrepreneurial initiative.

For Tate Modern, Pruitt has worked with a new selection of London-based artists, plus some of the original participants, to set up market stalls with everything from artists editions to old 12²s, in a seasonal flavour.”

http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/eventseducation/musicperform/20642.htm

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featherhouse in Berlin

Berlin

On the 29th October 2009 Harriet and Constance ran away to Berlin for a few days, to take part in Decima Gallery’s rather wonderful Britain’s Rubbish exhibition on 73 Hasenheide, Kreuzberg, Berlin.

featherhouse was exhibiting a series of photo-collages entitled A REASON FOR BEING IN BERLIN, which were a mix of photos that Constance had taken when she was living in Berlin in the winter/spring of 1990, and photos that Harriet had taken when she was staying in Berlin in the summer of 2005. We then superimposed the illustration of an embracing couple from Penny Jordan’s book A Reason For Being on Constance’s photos, and Harriet re-enacted this embrace with her hunky manfriend Duncan McGonigle and superimposed this onto her photos.

Underneath the framed photos we had a pile of Mills and Boon paperbacks with postcard versions of the images neatly tucked into the book and sealed in envelopes, with “TAKE ME NOW, I’M FREE” written above. As soon as Harriet wrote this on the wall during the private view they were devoured.

Why this illustration you ask? Why give books away? A Reason For Being was the romance novel that publisher Mills and Boon decided to give away for free to East German women after the Berlin wall came down, an entire 750,000 translated copies no less.

We felt that somehow this had been a little unnoticed within stories of the wall, and if noticed then dismissed, no doubt seen as trashy fiction that had little effect in the grand political scheme of things – one Independent writer dismisses the books as “Liquid Narcotic”. But this genre of fiction gets read by millions of women worldwide and undoubtedly affects their perceptions of sex, relationships, men, family, careers, so it then follows that perhaps a woman’s experience and opinions on these things in turn are also a little dismissed.

We liked the idea that these books were seen as being dumped on the women in East Germany and the idea that you could give away romance for free and that romance will always be very much an important part of political dramas and we liked the apparent novelty of our mother/daughter collaboration but also that the way in which we connect with one another was reflected in the nostalgic nature of the work….

And of course we felt this all tied in rather nicely with the “Britain’s Rubbish” concept.

All in all, we had loadsa fun and it was also a perfect opportunity to meet up with one of Harriet’s partners in crime – Claudia Sarkany (aka Gloria Salami).

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