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Addressing the Situation

The creative musings of Artist Mandy Webb…

A Fabulous Creation / Mandy Webb

Huge THANK YOU to Deviation street, thanks for asking me to respond

Deviation Street

In case you missed it – Deviation Street is taking a look back at an exhibition that was held at the Grant Bradley Gallery in 2016 by Mandy Webb titled ‘Addressing the Situation’.
Putting together a body of work and then exhibiting it in its entirety, is no easy task – it takes a lot of time, effort and energy, basically hard graft – such is the structure of what goes unseen prior to the exhibition itself.

I was able to catch the show on a miserable, blustery, wet winter’s evening in Bristol. Once inside the gallery however, the hunched up vibe of outside soon changed into what appeared to encapsulate all the finesse of a splendid, period ballroom dance.

A closer look revealed  a series of mannequins and heads elegantly dressed with layer upon layer of attitude. I was impressed, not only by the amount of sheer hard work…

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Variety is the Spice of Life! From #BBC100Women to #WorldAIDSDay I am always #Positive!

I am finally feeling better after weeks of getting over a nasty cold and cough, I needed to be as had a few busy days of exhibiting.

At short notice we (Feminism in London) Filia Artists were invited along to exhibit as part of the BBC 100 Women Event on Monday 28th November. I took along two pieces, one of my Panty Pad 18th Century inspired Wigs and my dress created after ‘the Referendum’ ‘Brexit’ ‘Speak Out’. Always good to be able to exhibit with like-minded Artists. Really nice to be able to see them before we come together again on the 9th December for Filia ‘Refuge’ at Oxford House.

Beforehand, myself and my sister had been trying out my new screen printing skills to produce t-shirts with an image of my work on especially for this event, I had already printed out a ‘Positive’ t shirt earlier in the week ready for the upcoming week of World AIDS Day and my involvement for the event in Luton, I was exhibiting pieces of work and had also been asked to judge an Art Competition from a local school for the event.

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Days like these, I always feel that I could do with an assistant as have so many things to juggle. Trying to keep on top of everything, and not forgetting anything crucial. As the great Patti Smith says ‘Build a Good Name’.

I’m still working on it!

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After the BBC event was over, I now had to get back on track for The World AIDS Day event in Luton. The Van had been booked, I had to get all the pieces together. Sadly one of the pieces they had asked for me to exhibit was nowhere to be found, I went through my large cupboard (Narnia) looking through all my organised labelled storage boxes (where I’d assumed the piece was?) Still no sign of it…..

Everything was bubble wrapped and bagged up ready and thankfully, due to my son was put in the van the night before as we needed to make an early start to get to Luton. The event started at 11 a.m. I had printed up the directions ready.

 

We left early and all was good until we got to Luton, then somehow we got so lost, when in fact we were so near, so back tracked to our last good written directions and finding someone who knew the area, we were finally on our way again.

A really nice event in a large Community centre, lots of tables set out ready for the guests and the stage ready for everyone to speak. I was unaware that I was speaking at this event, so wasn’t really prepared, but after listening to the two other Positive Peoples perspectives, I needed to give mine to show the reality what this disease can do to a person if it’s not caught and treated early enough, the damage it can do to the body, to a life! I wanted to be brutally honest about the negative stuff but also the positive outcome from the day I got the medication and got a second chance to live again and create work raising awareness about my experiences.

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After I finished, I awarded the prize for the wonderful Artwork inspired by the Artist Keith Haring to a year 8 School child, it was a hard decision to make as there were some great detailed pieces.

Another World AIDS Day over, my 14th one since being diagnosed HIV Positive and part of this beautiful varied community that is my Positive Family.

 

‘Too Many Pricks for my Liking!!!’ This week is the anniversary of my HIV Positive diagnosis 14 years on….

O.k so while I sit nursing a crappy cold, take a few more Sudafed and other cold remedies, I am reminded of how good it is to still be here, it is 14 years since I was diagnosed HIV Positive, it had gone a long time undiagnosed so it damn well nearly killed me!

While recuperating at home after being released from hospital and being totally dependent on others, I was visited by a Physiotherapist. She had come to visit in mind of assisting me to get back on my feet and walking again. Since leaving hospital and having to be carried from the car to my home, I had lost the use of my legs, they felt like they didn’t belong to my body! I couldn’t get them to move? I would sit and really concentrate trying to get messages through to make them move but they wouldn’t?

They would jump on their own accord every so often, I had no control of these strange spasms? I was adhering to my HIV medication well, and I felt so much stronger and really wanted my independence back so this meant ‘Walking again’.

So the Physio arrives with the biggest wooden walking stick, I was waiting for the Sheep to arrive ‘I was no shepherd, and definitely not Little Bo Peep!!!’ This was truly in bad taste, insult to injury. She handed it to me, I tried to raise myself leaning on a sideboard ( I became good at Furniture walking, and still rely on it now), the stick was far too tall for my 5’4 frame and I felt like I had become like one of ‘Monty Pythons Ministers of Funny walks’ surely this was a joke!!!

No, sadly it wasn’t!!!

So that stick became known as ‘Too Many Pricks for my Liking!!!’ It was one of many items that became also known as part of the ever-growing, ever evolving collection titled ‘The Museum of the Loss of Practicality +other Peculiarities’ that were all started and created for my Fine Art Degree show at Portsmouth in 2008.

The stick has approximately 1000 Drawing pins (gold) and Sharp side prominent adhered to it, a very long process and pretty dangerous to complete, it had to be propped up on cushions while I worked on it trying not to get punctured by the pins! A large Red Ribbon is attached to it. Beautiful but dangerous!

The reality of this piece is, it is difficult to take hold of without getting hurt by it, sometimes words and actions of apparently helping the problem can be really hurtful and insulting. This piece was really cathartic for me to be able to produce, to vent the spleen I’d had removed, to get the last word and have a visual voice showing my disdain for some of my experiences of those early days but also shows that I never lost my sense of humour, something I believe has been my saving grace along with my anger and sheer bloody mindedness!!!picture-092

The Fucking Kettle!!! First piece of work inspired by my HIV Positive status and as the anniversary of my diagnosis is so close, Oct 31 2002 or there about, it was all a bit of a haze!!!

The Fucking Kettle was created in 2005 for my Fine Art Degree. Inspired by careless, hurtful remarks made by a Health Provider that quite frankly should have known better! The offer of a ‘Kettle’ when I lay there on my bed settee after my whole world had fallen apart and I was totally dependent on family was a bloody insult. Those words stayed with me, in my head for the next 3 years. Finally after getting fairly used to my diagnosis and having to learn to live again, to walk again, I managed to complete a Fine Art Degree, one of my goals that I had set as kept trying to look towards the future but wasn’t really sure how much I would be allowed as I had just scraped through this last time and just hoped that focusing on this would be beneficial.picture-139My first project brief on my degree was ‘Autobiography’ I sat staring at the blank sheet of paper. Where could I start, I mean I was nearly 40 so there was a lot of ‘stuff!!!’ My tutor said he’d give me another 10 minutes and I really needed to write a heading on this piece of paper?

As he walked away, I knew now that this was where life was really going to change, I had met lots of my fellow students on the previous course and hadn’t divulged my status, I had wanted too, but never knew ‘how’ and now ‘the cat would be out of the bag’ and could change Peoples reactions to me?

I went ahead and wrote in very big, bold lettering ‘A FUCKING KETTLE!!!’ My tutor returned and I then disclosed to him about my title and my status. It did get easier after that initial jump into the unknown. Luckily, people didn’t treat me any different and asked about my condition in which I was happy to respond.

The Kettle is adorned with Jewels, there is a small ‘Lion’ on the back, a symbol of quality and strength and me (a Leo). Hand made HIV Medication spills out over the cup and saucer, days of the week are written on each individual tablet. This was my first HIV Combination of Elfiravenz (Sustiva) the yellowy one and Combivir the white one. Colourful skulls are like jewels hidden amongst the chaos.

These were my first representations of my medication and very naive in the making, I still make my own and use in other work but they have evolved as has my drug regime since 2002.

‘You say, you will repay me with a kettle, then I’ll have one out of jewels and precious metal’

 

I never did get that kettle, and had to provide this one myself!!!

#AddressingtheSituation In Appreciation of 19th Century Female Artists (Blue Plaque Dress)

In Appreciation of 19th Century Female Artists or ‘The Blue Plaque Dress’ as it has become known was created in 2015. Inspired by a real need to make a record of as many names of female artists as possible.

A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker. The brainchild of British politician William Ewart in 1863, it is the oldest such scheme in the world.

I believe that these women need recognition and wanted to create something quite beautiful for them. I used the same dress pattern as for previous dresses, I was going to add ‘mutton sleeves’ as the dress was inspired by an 1860 style ball gown.

A long process of researching names followed, sadly I knew that I could only get so many on this piece as wanted the plaques large enough to stand out and be easily read. Each plaque had to be painted twice and over 70 names are recorded on it.

I decided against the mutton sleeves as didn’t want to detract from the addition of the paintbrushes. These paintbrushes, all mine and some were used in the creation of this dress have been attached over the left breast, the heart, showing that this was their passion, their love, their life.

Art is eternal, but life is short. Evelyn de Morgan
I will make up for it now, I have not a moment to lose. Evelyn de Morgan

Evelyn de Morgan along with Henrietta Rae are just two of the many names that adorn this piece.

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I even attempted to make the dresses as small editions

 

World AIDS Day is every day, not just one day a year!!!

As another World AIDS Day approaches, a lot of us are very aware of it, a lot of us have the reminder every day of the importance of adhering to our HIV drug regime!

Every day more people are being diagnosed HIV Positive, and that’s the lucky ones as there are still many people out there, walking about, totally unaware of this non-judgemental disease that can fester un-noticed in your body for years before it rears its ugly head, and believe me, it really is ugly if left a long time!!!

So please if you do read this, and you are a little concerned that things may not be quite right with you, feeling a little uneasy about that last time you had unprotected sex, then please ‘Go get tested’. The nurses at the clinic will not judge you, they will make you comfortable while they get your details and take a few vials of your blood. It is better to know your status, as if it does come back as a Positive result, then you will get the best treatment available straight away and have a good chance of a very long and healthy life.

Recently I had an idea for a new piece of work. It was inspired by a memory of last year while I was exhibiting some of my work at ‘Victorious Festival’ in Portsmouth. Ever prepared for outside weather, I had lucky invested in lots of £1 waterproof coats, these are a normal type of attire for most festivals in Britain! The heavens did open and the rain came down so heavily and consistently, I had to try to cover all my work as best as possible, so worried that my Dresses/gowns, some with hand written painted text all about HIV etc might be ruined! The dresses ended up wearing these £1 raincoats along with lots of other protective wrap until the sun shone again. I became ‘The Grinch of Victorious’ and was not a happy bunny while I looked at all my hard work that could be ruined in a matter of minutes! Luckily the pieces were fine, they did get wet, they had to be dried out and checked for any damage, damage was minimal and I have come to the decision that I won’t be exhibiting them outside again!

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It was almost like the HIV related work was wearing Condoms. huge condoms!!!

A long process again, and had to buy more pins, the pins were getting blunt as didn’t seem to like the plastic. white ribbon was stitched horizontally, which looked good but also was a way of securing the loose condoms.

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Not keen on the white ribbon, I bought some wider Red Ribbon, which has become known as a symbol with HIV/AIDS, but also looks far better.
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I continued inserting condoms, pinning and stitching. It was awkward to manoeuvre on the sewing machine at times, and the sewing machine stopped working! I had to go online for ‘troubleshooting problems with the Singer ‘Heavy Duty’ machine’. Eureka, I actually got it working again!
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I added 3 ‘Red Ribbon’condoms that I was given many years ago at a World AIDS Day event, they are like buttons and also an indication that even though this cape is filled with protection, this protection, once checked is really out of date and would not be ‘Safe’!

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Work in progress:Screen Printing

O.k, So after ordering a piece of merchandise online with one of my images from The Luxury Collection (Panty Pads), I was a little disappointed with it when it arrived. It just seemed very flat and not very appealing! I wondered ‘Could I produce something nicer, something unique’ but also without having to spend too much to produce it?

I had previously had a go with Stencils and with Lino cut and had had some good results, but nothing that I really felt inspired to make, that could eventually be purchased at one of my exhibitions in the future maybe?

Screen Printing had always been something I really wanted to get into, I love any sort of printing process and the mixing up of colours and mediums.

I really wanted to do a one or two-day course in London or Brighton but that was costly and that money would be far wiser spent putting towards my next exhibition, so after a little research, I bought myself a ‘Starter Kit’, I watched the dvd that came with the pack and looked up many more similar short demonstrations online.

I varnished the Silkscreen as the person had advised on the attached dvd, I even bought some hinges and was lucky to have some hard board leftover from a past work to make it much easier to use the printing screen.

 

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The first one created with added metallic marker pens

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I thought I would get more detail with attempting a larger image, but found it difficult using a paintbrush with the fluid to go over my screen of my image. I was worried that I would miss bits out by not applying enough, I obviously applied too much, and the line work is too thick!

 

The next step to try is using Photo Emulsion so I can achieve the fine details I need?

 

#AddressingtheSituation. In Appreciation of 18th Century Female Artists (Mantua Gown) another week passes, another blog about another piece that will be on show in London 2017

In Appreciation of 18th Century Female Artists or Mantua Gown in short!

It was created in 2015 firstly to enter for The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition which was a good incentive to go ahead with such an awkward piece to create and secondly, it needed addressing!

Inspired by the architecture of The Royal Academy in London, Columns were built as a symbol of strength and fortitude, I believed these to be the very essence of those female artists of the 18th century, wonderfully, skillful artists that sadly many not recognised as they were female. Fathers, brothers and husbands would sometimes take the acclaim for their works!

The piece is sculptural and not wearable, it is built over a caged crinoline designed by researching online and by visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Arched garden canes have been constructed onto a trolley and the dress/canvas has been built upon this. A bodice has been made also with the calico material and painted white and boning has been inserted. Boning has also been inserted to create the columns on the gown and the coiled painted pieces that have become like shoulder pads/detail.

I re-created a painting by Angelica Kauffman, it is one of 4 that are on the ceiling in the foyer of the R.A. A long column drapes from the back of the gown to the floor, this has many names of these woman written in gold as closely to 18th century script as possible.

Sadly that year, even though I’d registered for the summer show and had finished the piece ready before the deadline, there weren’t any forms left! Ever determined it was entered this year,  it didn’t get accepted, but that also really added to the inspiration of the piece itself as only maybe 2 of the artists mentioned on the dress had ever been accepted by the establishment of the R.A!!!

This year it was exhibited in Bristol for ‘Addressing the Situation’ at The Grant Bradley Gallery, it was also part of the show in London ‘Salon des Refuses’ at the SPACE Gallery, which is an Annual Exhibition of Artworks Rejected by the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

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#AddressingtheSituation ‘Condom Dress’ another week nearer to London Exhibition 2017 keeping up the momentum!!!

‘Love Me, Glove Me, Sexy Life’ or ‘The Condom Dress’ as it is easily known was created in 2014. Inspired by the Condom Quilts I’d made, being the ‘Sexy Quilt’ for my Fine Art Degree Show and ‘Love Me, Glove me’ made two years later. I had been asked if ‘I could do anything with lots of Out of date Condoms?’ ‘Of course I could’ was my response, and even to this day, I am still working my way through the stockpile of these out of date condoms!!!

I wanted to unite these two pieces of work into one ‘wearable’ item. I knew from my experience of making the quilts with the condoms, that they were very heavy but also fairly fragile when moved about. I decided that the only way to realise this piece was by transferring images of the out of date condoms by the long process of Scanning and reversing and printing onto Image Transfer Paper. Once printed, each condom image was cut out and individually ironed into place onto the material, made out of cotton bed sheets I no longer needed.

The dress front has the word ‘SEXY’ written out in the gold condoms and ‘LIFE’ is on the reverse of the dress. Sexy being the contradicting word, that you don’t really associate with Condoms, but a necessary item if you wish to stay safe and ‘Life’ being the one thing we all wish for as long as possible.

Vintage gloves of silver and gold that had been bought in a Charity shop finally came into use with my love of Surrealism and in particular the Artist/Designer ‘Elsa Schiaparelli’. These have been used as straps, they are the hands that hold the dress up, but also a reflection of how we all need to hold each other up at times, whether physically or mentally.

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