Stacey Guthrie Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom
I'm a recently menopausal artist living and working in Cornwall. I use many different types of media in my art, from painting to sculpture to kinetic installation and live performance. My work is about the ridiculous expectations placed on women in our society, how our worth is measured and how we can unwittingly collude in all of it.
“I Make Art So I Don't Kill My Family” Of course I'm joking. Or am I? Obviously I would never want any of my family to come to any harm but I do utilise humour to make a serious point. The point I make via my art is personal and political and it remains acutely relevant in the 21st century; that woman is still seen as secondary to the needs of others. We still do the vast majority of the domestic chores, regardless of whether we are the most academically qualified or the highest earner. We are still primarily valued for our looks; with prettiness going hand-in-hand with submissiveness. From an early age we are taught that we are 'natural caregivers', hard-wired to tend to the needs of others before ourselves. It is a notion stitched so tightly into the fabric of our culture that many women begin to identify with it to the point where their own needs are entirely sublimated. Much of my work represents the critical point where a woman starts to realise the impact a lifetime of nurturing others has had on her own dreams and desires. The other aspect of my work is the subversion of the male gaze. As a middle-aged woman I find myself able to challenge the ownership society has over a woman's image. I employ carnivalesque, surreal imagery to question how we view and value women. In my paintings I am usually looking directly at the viewer, defying them to categorise me and making them aware that although they are looking at me their gaze is fully returned. The moving image and paintings support and inform each other. Both are darkly humorous as it is a fundamental part of my personality. I also feel that humour has the unique ability to convey a serious point in a way that disarms, thereby facilitating authentic communication. The live art is really just an immediate version of the videos. The videos are a space to present work to an audience; it allows for more complex idea development but the audience are passive viewers. Live performance allows the audience to become collaborators and as a result the work varies and evolves. Really though, I'm just a big gobby show off.