The free shop will be made an appearance for the week of climate action, Wednesday 25th September from 6 to 8 pm. Kings Parade. Cambridge. Everything in this shop is free and you don’t have to give anything in return. The drive for profit destroys the planet.
What a bizarre weekend we had sitting on a knitted sofa, a planted chair and a haphazard mix of other chairs, cushions and rugs on Mill Road in Cambridge the most unequal city in the UK, together with 3 giant rag dolls (made by women at Corona House) and a tea trolley laden with cakes and squash. I sometimes wondered what we were doing there, even though it had been my idea originally. We called the event “Putting the World to Rights” and we were able to occupy the street because the bridge on Mill Road was closed, effectively cutting the street in half and stopping vehicles from driving from one end of the road to the other. The purpose of us being there was to ask people about inequality and the environment in the context of the bridge closure. I feel strongly that we need to tackle inequality and revolutionise our systems and institutions if we are to effect environmental change and tackle climate change. I was also concerned that some in the community were celebrating the positive environmental impact of the bridge closure, without adequately assessing its impact on disabled people, the working class and the precariat. This was a simple way of discussing this issue with a wide range of local people. We asked simple questions such as: Are you pleased that there are fewer cars? And do you think road closures affect the poorest most? Which led to long and in-depth conversations. The overall view even of those who had been marginalised and majorly inconvenienced by the bridge closure was that they were pleased with the positive environmental impacts of the bridge closure, the events that had been planned and the way that the community was conversing more. However, it had caused serious problems for some people and this is something that I think we need to think through more carefully whenever there are road closures, borders, barriers, gates and gate keepers. I haven’t yet typed up all of the comments I have received or researched the positive statistics about the reduction in traffic and improvement in air quality, but I will be doing this soon and adding to the conversation. Please continue to add to this discussion if you want to. Thank you to artist, activist and community worker Cathy Dunbar for joining me with her amazing knitted sofa and web of wool. Thank you also to the Cambridge DPAC (Disabled People Against the Cuts) group and many others who sat and knitted, crocheted and chatted.
I have really enjoyed my first week at the Caravanserai Residency at Cambridge Artworks, getting stuck into the umbilical cord project and celebrating women’s unity and our connections to each other. The photographs are fabulous illustrations of Angela Carter’s work, by the artist Elphie Quinn. I have connected them with a red feather boa and have gradually stitching in more ordinary and bedraggled feathers for us more ordinary women who can really fly.
This Sunday, I will be joining the Desperate Art Wives for an intervention at the Tate Modern to protest about sexism in the art world. I will be highlighting the problems encountered by working class women; wearing my tabard again and this time putting paint brushes and rags etc. in the front pocket to clean the Tate Modern. I will be joined by Jane Hellings who will be wearing the tabard that she wears for the Feminist Pound Shop and banging a pot in the style of les casseroles or cacerolazo South American women protestors. Below is a photograph of one of the embroidered tabards and a link to the Rebel Arts write-up from the Rudi Dutschke symposium where I last wore a tabard, embroidered with the words, “You never asked my name”:
I painted this lovely picture today of my hysterectomy scar shortly after the operation. I’m not sure what to call it. It has a provisional title, “Hystery/Herstory: The Last Cut”, but I’m not sure if this title properly conveys what I am trying to say. Having a hysterectomy was in many ways a wonderful thing for me. It represented the end of several years of severe pain and heavy bleeding. However, it also felt like a continuation of the violence that had been done to my body as a woman and compelled me to speak out against that. It is thanks to George and Louis for organising the “SpeakOut Festival” happening at several venues next weekend and the fact that this coincides with 1 billion rising and a rise in hate crime against women amongst others, that I finally forced myself to get on with the painting. It will be exhibited at the Six Bells pub on Covent Garden Road , along with the work of Lucy Castang, Cathy Dunbar and possibly others. The exhibition will run from Monday 6th February to Sunday 19th February with a preview on Thursday 9th February.
We visited Savills Estate Agents in Cambridge today and they felt the need to unexpectedly close for the morning. Let’s close them down permanently. This quotation is from Cambridge Unite Community,
“Savills Estate Agents make millions in the UK selling high end property in Cambridge, London and across the country. They are also land consultants to some of the biggest developers in the country, advising on how to avoid build social housing. They were the authors of a report recommending hundreds of Council Estates be demolished, which was used in a speech by former PM David Cameron. Let’s show them what we think of them.”
This is an image of my work in progress for an exhibition called Once Upon a Time at the new Art Salon Gallery in Cambridge, 1 Thrifts Walk, Chesterton, from March 26th to April 9th. The not so private view is Saturday March 26th, 6pm to 9pm, all welcome. My work is called, “Once upon a time there was council housing …” and I am making clay tents and other places that people are forced to live and sleep in these days, to go with a collection of “Whimsies.” I am also telling stories about housing and homelessness and featuring work made in collaboration with Jannie Brightman, Denise Knowelden and others as part of Cambridge Unite Communities Housing protests.