I’ve not blogged for a while because I’m currently knee deep in illustrating women’s ‘coming out’ stories – a project that I’ve wanted to do for years and have finally given myself permission to do. The project is called ‘Oh, but you wear lipstick’ (a homage to a ‘one liner’ a mother said to her daughter in response to the coming out moment). The project is not easy and continues to be a fascinating challenge, one which should accompany me for most of this year.
The project involves interviewing gay women (mostly people I don’t know – amazingly generous women in the U.S., Venezuela and the UK so far) and then visually representing an aspect of their coming out story. The plan is to create a series of at least 15 pictures, so one picture might work on its own but it also has to work as a set. One way I’ve done that is to set a size (a fairly large size of 70x100cm) for each picture and I’ve also created a set of common characters – one ‘mother’ is used for every mother in every story. Also there is a need to respect each story and its diversity (and wow, are they diverse!) – both in terms of adding a concept and retaining original words the women have recounted. So yes, it’s difficult and at the moment it’s difficult to think of anything else!
What is really wonderful is the opportunity to share the first three stories (the image above is a detail from one of the visual stories) with a new audience at Leeds City Art Gallery on the 22nd February. I’m giving a talk about the project and showing images as part of the ‘Queer Culture Project’, a new project to engage the LGBT community with art and creative activity in Leeds.
So my images get their first outing, as do three women’s stories. If you’re in Leeds and are interested then please come along (coming out is optional!).