Written by Claire Dorey
Images from left, Selena Steele, Jackie Crawford
During the next few posts we will be featuring the artwork and statements from artists participating in Silence Is Over in June 2018 at the Portico Gallery. Over 20 female artists had their say on a blank canvas on the subject of coercive control and sexual abuse. The canvases were assembled into two billboards to create a wall of unity. Traditionally used for advertising, often objectifying women, the billboards served as a reclaimed space where the female voice could be heard.
Art appears from left to right and is in the order they were displayed on the billboards. The statements were an integral part of the exhibition.
SELENA STEELE, Sixteen, Mixed media, collage, NFS
Taking part in this exhibition has encouraged me to examine the long history of sexual abuse against women. It is a shockingly long history. The silencing of women is woven throughout time. Gathering the fragments of evidence from the distant past, and the near deluge of recent evidence, my piece represents sixteen amazing women; mythological, historical and contemporary. The icons depict survivors, campaigners and truth tellers. All women who contributed to, or currently work towards breaking the silence around sexual harassment and abuse. Brave women, who risked and continue to risk, ridicule, societal disapproval, incarceration and in some cases torture and death.
Michelle Vinson – plaintiff in 1st case of sexual harassment to reach the Supreme Court USA. Philomela – from Greek mythology- rape survivor who had her tongue cut out, so she wove her story in a tapestry. Azza Soliman – Egyptian lawyer, defends survivors of sexual violence. Harriet Anne Jacobs – born into slavery, wrote of sexual harassment suffered by female slaves. St Agnes et al – victims of sexual harassment in ancient Rome. Manasi Pradhan – founder ‘ Honour for women’ campaign to end violence against women in India. Mariam Mehtar– Afghan journalist, daring to address issues of sexual harassment in Afghanistan. Elena de Hustwayt – 14th century servant testified in sexual harassment case. Tarana Burke – founder of ‘ Me Too’ campaign. Gil Won-Ok – WW2 Korean comfort woman and campaigner. Artemisia Gentileschi – rape survivor and artist. Mayumi Haruno – plaintiff in 1st sexual harassment case taken to court in Japan. Elizabeth Wade -18th century maid servant, testified in sexual harassment case. Jill Saward – rape survivor and campaigner. Maya Angelou – sexual abuse surviver, writer, campaigner. Evelyn Nesbit – rape survivor involved in notorious court case.
JACKIE CRAWFORD, Daughter, Acrylic, NFS
When I heard of the theme of this exhibition my first thoughts were of how these issues might impact on my daughter. It made me realise we needed to have a conversation and that more generally we need to educate our girls to know they deserve respect. My intention with this portrait is to present my daughter, Lily, with a look that says she knows she can speak out against coercive control, that she has a voice, that she knows respect is her right. We can’t just hope this happens we must make the effort to change things and to give all girls the courage to speak out.