inside & out

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Beautiful human whose eyes gaze upon this, thank you for your support! This zine is a reflection on my time in residency, aiming to bring materiality and tangibility to the personal navigation of the body and what it means to occupy a body; an open journal to my thoughts & a collection of interviews and conversations I had along the way. Symbolising a healing process of unlearning and dismantling shame. During this time I also created a series of workshops, that held space for individuals to negotiate the terms of their own embodiment. Understanding that our bodies are the vessel for us to experience the world; they hold memories, emotionally, somatically, psychically, and they permeate the space we use to express the affect of these memories and experiences. My residency and this healing has taken place on unceded Whadjuk Noongar boodja, I acknowledge this legacy and custodianship, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present, and ongoing.

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photos by tasha faye

The drive to join the conversation about fashion and identity; Not Applicable, the label, was born. Built on the foundation of collaboration, community and change. Reinforcing a strong message of a c c e p t a n c e , Fashion that can be worn regardless of your shape, size or identity. The name communicates that an individual’s gender is not applicable when selecting clothing and expressing individuality through fashion. Alongside the label, workshop facilitation took place, deconstructing clothing as a cathartic process. Ahead I talk with June Summers who I had the pleasure of meeting and working with, we discuss clothing and s e l f e x p r e s s i o n


Hey June, it has been so nice catching up with you. How have you been and what have you been up to? You’re right, it has been nice to catch up with you again and so has returning to university for the semester which is what I spend most of my time doing. I love to learn so higher education was calling my name with unbridled enthusiasm until I enrolled. Other than that I enjoy the lifestyle of a socialite from time to time. I’m fond of a good dinner party or a drunken stumbling to a local park to vomit in the grass. These are the past times Australians have enjoyed for decades, after all. I feel so lucky to have been able to work with you on photoshoots for Not Applicable. For our readers that don’ t know, would you like to tell the story of how we met? I am also very curious to hear about how modelling has become a part of your life and how modelling makes you feel in general? It was a pretty weird time in my life actually. I was involved in a local youth group called PICYs and was working with a support person on improving my social skills. I got involved with an event called Transtastic, if I remember correctly, mostly as an attempt to get used to going out and interacting with strangers. A bit of a “learning how to swim by jumping in the deep end of the pool” situation, I know, but it worked well. I met you there when I modelled for your clothing label and fell in love with the concept and the work itself. I knew immediately that I wanted to work more with you and I

just so happened to be lucky enough to be able to do so. I don’t really get to model as much these days but I’d happily do it again if I got the chance but for the time that I did do it, it had a pretty significant impact on me. On a superficial level, it helped me realise that people can actually enjoy the way I look which, believe it or not, was quite the revelation to me at the time. And I suppose the natural consequence of that is more confidence in yourself and your body which was a welcome boon. I found a sense of purpose in being one cog in a bigger machine and also it was just a lot of fun! Reflecting on it, I think modelling gave me the chance to overcome some of the fears I had about being seen and being judged on my body. I remember walking out on that stage for the first time, it was a thrill like no other I have experienced. And now I am so much more comfortable in my own skin. So I guess I’d suggest amateur modelling to anyone struggling with social anxiety. It worked wonders for me, haha. You have come to two of the workshops I have held during this residency. How was it for you to turn up to something that perhaps you hadn’ t done before? I liked both workshops a lot! I really enjoy this approach where we take something mundane but overlooked and put a magnifying glass on it, turning it around in our hands and trying to see it from another perspective. How many times do we move throughout our day without being conscious of it and the effort that it takes? How do we interact with our own clothing? And how do these things

affect how we think about our bodies and ourselves in general? I found myself asking myself these sorts of questions at your workshops. They were also both a lot of fun! While my tendency is to self-reflect, the great joys in simply moving how you feel is right or sewing some pretty beads onto clothing should not be overlooked! I would happily do the movement workshop regularly. I felt it really challenged me in ways I wasn’t expecting without ever being overbearing or pushy. To move naturally and to face your fear of being seen in that basic vulnerability, it was pretty great! Also I just like stomping. If you ever did a stomping workshop, I’d be first in line. We could rally a group of A-grade snake startlers.


You mentioned your relationship with clothing during one of the sharing circles. To you, the choice between trousers and a skirt is the same as the choice between red trousers and blue trousers. I really loved hearing your thoughts around clothing - very much the way that I wish the rest of humanity could view clothing in relation to gender and acceptance of individual identity. Could you tell us a little more about this? I mentioned the skirt vs pants scenario because I think it’s an easy way to get people to understand how I feel about my own gender and gendered expression in general without getting too caught up in specific jargon but I don’t think it’s

ask yourself if you were “allowed” to wear a pair of pants based off of their colour or would you simply make that choice based off of your own aesthetic taste? And why is it different for a skirt or pants? Clothes are just clothes. We can’t ignore the existing gender rules attached to them but we don’t have to follow them either, if we don’t want to. But if you do want to, feel free to do so! When it comes to self-expression, no rules are good rules.

actually true, strictly speaking. By that I mean: it’s kind of impossible to make a “genderblind” decision on what you wear. Even subconsciously, you know the likely response certain items of clothing are going to get from people and that has to influence you, even a little bit. But it remains true that I find this clothing segregation to be incredibly stifling. And to be honest I don’t think you have to feel like you exist outside our societies gender binary to feel this way. I think most people feel stifled by these rules to some degree and would benefit from the ability to experiment in how they dress. So I’d encourage people to try and think differently about clothing. Would you

What has your journey been like with your body? I feel like no matter how I think about my body, I am still always prescribing it a set of expectations. If my body is a machine that is meant to move then it should be used/talked about/seen in this way and not that. If it is an image for the consumption of others then it must look like this and behave like that. If it is the vessel for my soul, it must be afforded a certain reverence. I suppose I don’t want to have any relationship with my body as much as I simply want to exist within it. Just as I am simply me, my body is just my body. I realise this way of thinking is impractical in some sense: I definitely have some expectations of my own body no matter what I say but thinking about my body in this way makes me happy for now, so that’s how I’ll choose to view it. My relationship with clothing is constantly changing. There was a time in my life where if I wasn’ t feeling good, choosing clothing was impossible; I’d rather curl up in a ball naked and not go anywhere.

& lastly, I would love to hear if you have any rituals or practices which allow you to connect with your body? You know I do have this one that I go to. I imagine this, I guess you would call it “energy”, inside my body that begins life at the very top of my throat. I inhale sharply and then I begin to breathe out slowly. As I breathe out, I push this energy down, down, down, passing through my chest until it finally settles in the pit of my stomach and unfurls there. Afterwards, I always feel calm, relaxed, present and happy.


Whereas now when I don’ t feel great and I have to go out, I put on an outfit that says, ‘ I am confident,’ then I try to manifest that energy. What happens for you in times like these - when you have to go out but you are not feeling great? What emotional responses come from picking clothing? Picking an outfit tends to make me rapturous, at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, but there is also an aspect of stress in picking something out. I’m very much in the same camp as you though wherein I try to manifest confidence through clothing choices. It doesn’t always work, and those are the days you just have to soldier through it but, more often than not, something as simple as wearing a bright colour can have a positive effect on my mood. However, in the end, it doesn’t really matter as I find any concern for my outfit quickly dissipates once I find myself far away from mirrors, haha.

Dear diary The acts of self care and self love are marketed to us as things that are supposed to happen alone. While there are huge benefits to spending time alone, I have so much belief in turning to your community for support. Creating spaces for people to come and just simply be, away from whatever it is that is constricting them out there. To share, to put something out into the universe, get something off your mind with someone receiving and holding you on the other end. Not really knowing what will happen but allowing the mystery and magic of it all to take over. Nothing is too small or too big to share. No one should feel like what they are feeling isn’t valid. These are the types of things I tell myself everyday because I lived through the nightmare of a mind telling my body awful things. Being able to share vulnerably through my workshops makes me so grateful for the people that have chosen to come participate and come on this journey with me. I am nervous but I want to dive towards the

illustration by gabby loo

things I am scared of.


Whilst researching and listening to stories, aiming to shine a glittery light on the medical world, that is still proving to be patriarchally dominated, I met Clara Pinto. We had many beautiful conversations about pain, the complexities of bodies born with a cervix and the power of dreams. Through fashion design she explores self observation, the concept of women and society’s dimensional perceptions. We get the chance to speak about her relationship with her c e r v i x a n d p a i n .



CC // Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me my love. Please tell me more about your work and how important it has been to talk about the layers of representation of women in society? CP // I respect the time I take to get somewhere new; whether it's a collection, a concept, or an emotional realisation. It's very common that all of these are linked when I do my work. I try to be as dedicated and connected to my center as I can while generating a piece of work and that leads to very genuine personal results. I’m a woman and in my work I constantly collaborate with lots of other women who, at the time, have something similar or relevant to bring to the table. I must say I act in an emotionally ‘selfish’ way as a starting point and that leads by synchronicity to meet and share with other women. That’s what gives my narrative and concept meaning when it triggers emotions in real people. CC // We have talked about & scars being something you to communicate through work, can you expand on

pain want your this?

CP // For my 2018 collection titled ‘MUMMIES’ I compiled photos of scars and marks in women’s bodies to generate prints and embroidery patterns. I made a collection with transparent layered materials to generate a deep optical effect where the scars would be displayed as a beauty armour. This collection responds to that time in my life. It connected me to all these women that worked next to me to make it happen: women that I photographed

who told me their story; the women that modelled my dresses which generated a very strong bond and intimate relation. But it's not my intention to talk about pain in my future work. Making heals, years heal and life takes you to new narratives. CC // You use such beautiful materials in your designs: waste from animal bones, wool and hair... What led you to use these? CP // It seems to me that we’re wasting very noble, strong and useful things. It also gives the garments more adventure, history and emotional value.


The search for those materials leads me to spectacular places, people and situations. Further every day from crappy contaminating excessive materials. CC // I would love to hear your thoughts on dreams and the connections you make with them? CP // Yes, I’m working on my latest collection which is related to dreams. During the sleeping state, we transit situations and emotions - wake up transformed by our dream. I’m trying to blend the oneiric and ‘tangible’ dimension to generate a distorted reality. I’m going a bit more pragmatic in the way of presenting my collection this time - it will be only four looks and each representing a different material and technique. CC // I would love to talk to you about your relationship to your body and am curious to hear about how you feel in relationship to your cervix. When was your first Pap smear test? CP // It was in Argentina. When you are 16, you are supposed to have your first appointment with a gynecologist so that’s what everybody tries to do. They ask for everything during this time including a blood test and a Pap smear - and you have one every single year. CC // If you can remember, what were some of thoughts that were running through your head during your first Pap smear? CP // So my father is a doctor and he recommended where I should go. He said I would trust this guy. The whole

procedure felt very weird. I didn’t really know that I had to get undressed. I didn’t feel as though I was being taken care of in the proper way. I was wearing a dress and he said you can put the robe on or be naked, and I had this weird moment where my legs are spread open and no robe or nothing covering me. I remember how at that young age it felt uncomfortable. He didn’t know me and I didnt know him and this is the most intimate thing. Not even when you have sex does someone stare at you like that. CC // What was the experience like for you? How did it feel being opened up by medical instruments in that way? CP // I’m not scandalised by things like that. I believe this is because I am the daughter of the doctor: ‘getting sick is for dumb people’, ‘no one is a hypercondriac in my household’, etc.. I felt like perhaps I needed to toughen up with things like that. The procedure felt weird - it still does feel very weird - but I tend to naturalise medicine and procedures. Now I’m revisiting how that stuff was. I know I need to respect my body and my pains. CC // What’s your relationship with your cervix and/or womb area? CP // I started getting connected with that area when I received the news of endometriosis. Last year I was at my friend’s house and pain pain pain, nothing like I’ve ever experienced. I thought I had eaten something wrong. In the bathroom, I didn’t know what to do. I started throwing up and thinking, ‘this isn’t normal’. Throwing up of pain

was just like... woah. After that I didn’t think it was endo - most people don’t know what it is. It started happening every month. My dad sent me these crazy pills that make the pain go away instantly. But if you don’t take it at the right time, you’re doomed. And then there’s 5 hours of crying on the floor. Now I’ve learnt that I’m overmedicated and I’m wanting to think of other ways to attack the problem. I’ve spoken to other women and started to understand the condition better, it’s not an illness or a disease. A lot of women have it and it's normal and natural for the body to be in that state. I’m not sure why. Maybe an alarm for reproduction, time clicking. It’s scary. It can fuck up your fertility. It’s scary. There’s no cure for it, you have to go through this pain as a woman. I’m just surprised that the body does it to itself. It is quite deep for me. CC // How do you feel about your pain now? CP // It is still a journey. It places me in time and makes me rethink: what do I want? What is it to be a woman? Why am I going through this pain? And how to take care of it? And maybe just reflecting and working on it heals it. We have the power to heal it. Be conscious and you will learn that. No one does when they begin. Women are not really connected to their wombs and their fertility - or at least they’re not taught to be. CC // I totally agree - at least from my experiences. I have only really felt connected to this part of my body in the recent years. I used a yoni egg, which was a huge help towards finding that connection. Even then, sometimes I would forget that it was inside my vulva. It’s like I was so disconnected that I forgot something was inside me. From thereon I wanted to connect further with this part of my body, which led to me to a deeper understanding of the menstrual cycle. CP // What attracts you to periods and wombs? CC // I like seeing what interesting conversations come from menstrual blood


as a topic. I find that when I start these sorts of conversations in certain settings where they are still quite taboo, people open up and allow themselves to feel free in their personal experiences. I love these moments. CP // I also wanted to ask you, what were the pictures you shot today about? CC // I want to understand the inside of the body - just the same as we focus on understanding and learning to love the outside. We modelled using parts of our bodies, using sequins on our bodies too. I made this connection in my research to the scans that you get during a Pap smear. Under the microscope, the cells remind me of sequins - very colourful. I think about my research as shining a glittery light on topics like this. I love photos that can communicate a story in an abstract way. We tried to do this with the use of medical gloves, skin and different poses that you might find yourself in on that medical bed. CP // I am excited to see what you get up to in your residency in Australia. CC // Thank you! I am really excited to sit down and dedicate a good chunk of time to these topics and just learn and talk to more people about bodies.


inside out

photos by vicky polak

inside out

photos by vicky polak


Blood love is an extension of self love. Connecting with the womb and menstrual cycle can enable us to feel free in our emotions and can allow us to connect with our inner wild woman, inner witch, inner self. I get to talk with The Period Queen Lucy Peach on all things b l o o d y

photo by richard berney

Lucy, 2016 I think was the year that you came into my world with the drop of your single, Bomb, featuring yourself on the cover freeing your armpit hair. For me this was the very beginning of understanding & unlearning the very patriarchal values I held due to society telling me all the things ‘ women could simply not do.’. You, among many women, started to teach me how to break this.. Can you tell me a little bit about your journey on how you came to take off the ‘ blindfold’ most women come into early womanhood with? To be honest, it was shot in winter and I just happened to have armpits full of hair. I mostly do, but I don’t always - I enjoy the freedom to choose - at least I used to, when I periodically epilated my armpits. Now I occasionally trim but the thought of epilating again makes me feel tense. It hurts so much! I used to get an

anxious, homesick feeling when I did it and usually called my sister for emotional support midway through. I remember a middle aged man approaching me in an airport and saying sheepishly, ‘excuse me but I just wanted to say how much I ...’ he was kind of lost for words but he was looking at my armpits and the tufts of black poking out - I smiled, ‘thanks?’ ‘I’ve just never seen it like that’ he said. The ‘patriarchal blindfold’ as you put it has so many layers!! The more you see, the more you see. When I began a new relationship with someone who was positive about my relationship to my cycle - I kept uncovering new pockets where I could feel more free. Your background as well as music, is in sexual health and you very much noticed the lack of information or education available for young women surrounding the empowerment of the

changing body during puberty. Even at the age of 23, seeing your show, ‘ My Greatest Period Ever ’, for the first time, I felt as though it was the sex education class I wish I had received when I was menstrating for the first time. I’m eager to know how a sex education class with you would run if you could do anything you wanted? Oh can you imagine! I would use different learning styles depending on where you were in your cycle for a start, with beanbags, hot water bottles and tea for those who needed it. Boys would be involved - traditionally many sex ed classes are separated and sadly that reinforces the divide between us understanding each other. Sex ed is often delivered in a disaster management style and I feel this is such a missed opportunity. Focusing on pleasure and all of the parts that contribute to a pleasurable experience is a priority for me, openness and empowerment is my ethos. People need information - but for it to be engaging - so hands-on activities, small group discussions about personal

values and how they come into play when things get sticky is important, we all need to benefit from practicing how we might manage a difficult situation before we’re actually in it. All of that aside - the most important thing about delivering/facilitating a sex ed session is that the person delivering it is comfortable, the main take away is that you model how to be comfortable when you are talking about sexual health and also where to go for more help/info. I like to use music, movement - to really embody our power, to stitch it in. And art, making things makes it fun and sets up that sexual health/wellness includes individual expression.


In your show ‘ My Greatest Period Ever ’ you talk about the four-phases of the cycle and how to plan your month accordingly. I also very much enjoy your cycle check in posts on Instagram. Can you explain how this contributes to your mental health and a little bit about how connecting with your cycle has allowed you to feel more in tune with your body? When you are in a situation and you can’t call something what it is - it can make you feel disconnected to yourself. If the shoe is blue but you can’t say it's blue - it does something to you, ‘cognitive dissonance’ some people would say. When you are able to say how you feel on any given day and WHY - it makes us feel better. The thing that’s bothering you might still bother you, but being able to acknowledge what is going on for you internally is powerful- ie Hi Chloe, I’m day 2 and feeling pretty slow and precious or I’m day 8 and feeling revved up and focused or I’m day 16


and I’ve got the world on a string or, I’m day 27 and ready to eat my own face off. And if I get to be familiar with saying how I feel because of my internal hormonal landscape - I also get to be better at saying how I feel in general. Women and girls are often socialised to please others, to minimise our concerns etc. If I have embodied experience in saying how I feel, and understanding the link between my body and my emotions - I am in better stead to speak up about other things. If I track my cycle just enough to know that on certain days I will feel a certain way, patterns will emerge and I will be able to plan for them, to use them, to channel them!! Knowledge is power. It also gives us a tool to be kinder and more loving to ourselves. To actively undo some of the negative messaging we’ve internalised around our hormones, our selves. In an interview with Rebecca Weller ahead of performing at Brighton Fringe festival last year, you spoke about a ‘neat little line between the treatment of women’s bodies and the Earth – both are being pushed too far and need rest ’. In the heights of a climate emergency that we are seeing, can you explain this comparison a little further? We are all cyclical, we have evolved just so because of millions of years of being connected to nature. In such a short time, we have created lives that take us away from nature and our cyclical way of being and require us to fit systems that don’t foster our humanity. Yes, we still need to go to work and use transport and buy things that we can’t always make (not even nearly perfect over here) but returning to our menstrual cycles is a way of tapping into our humanity. We are not meant to be endlessly productive, there is a time for everything - just like with the natural seasons. We don’t begrudge winter because it isn’t summer - and yet - the earth is being ravaged with no time to regenerate and no regard for longevity. There is a time for everything and nature must be respected. Women’s wisdom has a role to play in caring for the earth and we need everyone to use the fullest extent of their powers if we’re going to get out of this mess and move forward more tenderly. Period poverty is still proving to be a problem in Australia, even with the tampon tax being removed. 27% of teenagers are skipping school because they do not have the appropriate sanitary product. For me as an Australian this information seems to have been left out of the narrative, even as we make small steps as a country with less stigma around periods. Why do you think we are not hearing about period poverty?

This is a huge area. And a complicated one - it's important to remember that at the root of period poverty is stigma, we don’t hear or deal with ‘period poverty’ because people don’t want to talk about periods full stop. Chris Bobel writes about this in ‘The Managed Body’ - its brilliant - and calls for ‘360 degrees of body positivity’. She acknowledges that yes, people need something to bleed on but she cautions that the solution isn’t simply providing pads and tampons. In the West, we hear about these poor women who have to use rags. When in fact, using repurposed cotton squares, cut to size can be a very comfortable, sustainable way to bleed. What isn’t comfortable is if someone has no place to safely wash their cloth and dry it out in the sun away from other

photo by richard berney

people casting judgement. We need men - at all levels - to be involved, to upturn the stigma. Women need choices and access. Thankfully, great moves are being made - in Scotland recently - tampons and pads were made free for everybody, just like toilet paper is. Maybe soon this could include sustainable options too like cups and reusable pads and period pants - for those who want them. I am not saying that people should use cloth if they do not want to - but when we provide a ‘solution’ to menstruation in the form of single use products, our bodies are the vectors for an environmental impact that is mirrored in us. Let ’s talk about the Zero Fucks Given attitude, my absolute favorite of all. Have you always manifested this kind of attitude? Where was she born?

Ha. I guess it must be my mother - I think she is in all of us. There are parts of the cycle, the end and the beginning that feature less fucks and once you learn to manage the few that you have - you realise, who the hell said we were all meant to be dishing out fucks ad infinitum? I am really interested to hear if you have any rituals or practices which allow you to connect with your body? About 3 years ago I started paying more attention to the lunar cycle and just noticing where I was in relation to it. Just started looking up more, then when I could I looked for longer and used that as a way to have some quiet time. Maybe a coincidence, but now - I always ovulate around the full moon and menstruate around the new moon. I get a thrill every time.

I eat a lot of lindt 70% dark chocolate. I factor in where I’m at when choosing what to wear, how to express myself, who I want to spend time with, what tasks I want to approach and how - these are all practical things I suppose. Menstruation is obviously a time to dial up self care and that can include lots of different things - I also put my diluted menstrual blood in the garden. When I’m pre-menstrual I feel particularly witchy and like dancing, singing to let some of my power out so that it doesn’t fester...

First period poem of twenty twenty

Thr obbing womb Ent w ine d in it s own pain Blood s he d down t he s ides Mind ex ploding on Emotions t hat hold no gain Fe eling eve r y t hing Fr om t he ins ide out A f inge r pr int of blood Place d bet we e n t he br eas t Acce pt ance linge r s Mant ra e choes , I am e nough. By Chloe Clements 29

XR rebellion london 2019

A collective of people standing on the streets - shouting for change, shouting to be heard, shouting for justice - can show how different things could be if power was placed in the hands of those who are disregarded in society. I talk with photogapher Vicky Polak about her work and communcating c h a n g e through her imagery.


Hey Vicky, so lovely to have you as a part of such a special zine! Hi Chloe! Thanks for thinking of me to be a part of this project. As you know I love to collaborate with artists and have been working with women in my feminist research and photographic investigation for a long time now. Our conversations have always been eye opening, refreshing and passionate. What has your relationship been like with your body in the past? I think that over the years my relationship and understanding of my body has changed significantly! When I was younger, at school and Uni, I just didn’t care. I was mainly in my head - studying, working, learning, exploring, travelling, moving constantly and doing music. My body was the vehicle for all the things that I cherished and treasured. While growing older I felt quite awkward in my body, I think that working in the fashion and advertising industry has created a

distorted image of myself. Now, at 35, I feel more grounded and I’m taking care of myself. Not only by having high-quality foods which include: unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein, but also by becoming vegetarian, I’m not too strict though because I believe that being gentle with myself means allowing some flexibility in my diet. I now understand that the body is the temple, that ageing is beautiful and that having a beauty routine is not just putting on oils and creams but also nourishing the soul with singing and meditation, which I do daily. We met in London after both making huge changes in our lives. What led you to this big city? I was heartbroken, recently divorced, sad and completely lost, but full of desire, curiosity and freedom. I decided

Can I ask a little more about your divorce? How did this make an impact on your body? It was a very sad moment, I cried every night for an entire year, in complete silence, alone. I carry that experience with me; it makes me who I am today. Those scars gave shape to the new me, shaped how I see the world, changed how I listen to and create music, and how I appreciate life. It is completely different now. My body and how I felt about being in my own skin changed in this period. After that moment, I was reborn. I discovered myself in new ways, connected with my body and sexuality (which were dormant). I let myself die then little by little started feeling again. New things; inhabiting my body in a complete new way. Being on my own after sharing 10 years of my life growing next to someone I admire and love was so powerful and I am so thankful to have lived through it. But I also embrace the ending, the separation, the discovery of me in adulthood, travelling alone, exposing myself to the world, growing in my career, becoming wiser and braver. I guess we all have growing pains to learn from. You have been such a pleasure to watch and learn from, would you tell us a little bit about the women’s


to move to London because I feel it is a very fertile land - abundant in art and culture - where you can plant a seed and it will grow. I need that to feel alive and joyful. My brother was living here and invited me to visit him. I simply loved it and stayed. London embraced me.

groups you’ ve participated in and how they ’ ve helped you get in touch with your whole body and self ? I started to attend a workshop with a woman’s circle where we meditated together, shared our stories, took care of each other and studied Mythology of different Goddesses. This group was very empowering and healing. It was a healing space where we danced and connected with our bodies in a psychotherapeutic way. It was a wonderful experience which lasted 1 year. I highly recommend this type of experience. In my case, it allowed me to feel more active, energised, confident and creative. What role has activism played in your life? Growing in Argentina, abortion is not legal (yet). This became a huge topic for me. I started to feel the urge to be an activist and a way of expressing myself was going out to the streets with my camera when there was a gathering happening with the feminist groups. I published the images in a well read newspaper: La Nación and the online magazine: Anfibia. It was my way of being part of the movement and doing something for this cause. I need to

move my body; to be there, present, feeling the urge to make a change in society, singing and shooting in the streets with my sisters. Today abortion is still not legal in Argentina and many women die every day. As a photographer what type of themes are important for you to communicate? Lately I have been exploring the Wabi-Sabi movement. I had the pleasure to visit Japan in March 2019 and felt bonded to Buddhism, Shinto, and the culture in general. Right now I am exploring the boundaries of visual poetry based on the books I have read related to what’s intimate, unpretentious, irregular; the acceptance of the inevitable, appreciation of the cosmic order. As a photographer I love to do portraits, mainly of women. I find it interesting to investigate, connect and portray their studios, homes; the places they inhabit around the globe. Feminism was introduced to me a few years ago and I am still studying, learning and reading about the topic. I find it fascinating and believe that the images and videos I create are connected to this root. Global warming, recycling and spirituality have been the main topics in the last few months. Of course I enjoy being in nature, so I don’t only focus on one type of photography. I am a multitasker and love to explore different worlds with the camera. It’s a great tool to fulfil my curiosity - it can take me to different realities and places, as a passport to the unknown. We shot some images together - communicating some themes around women’s experiences in medical institutions. What was the shoot like for you? Medical institutions can be tricky and disconnected to the patient. My mother is a doctor. She is dedicated to scans and diagnostic imaging and she has always been very open with me - explaining the importance of pregnancy and abortion, that we own our bodies and what we do with them is our choice, not

the goverment or the church. She complains about how other doctors and her colleagues do not take the time needed to communicate and make the patient feel comfortable. She is very well known in Buenos Aires because people like to go to her clinic. She listens to them in order to make a more accurate and complete diagnosis. But not all the hospitals and doctors have this luck. The system sometimes pushes to deliver quickly, losing attention to detail. The shoot was very powerful for me as my mum and I both work with image making. We could put glitter, light and color to a very dark and uncomfortable topic. And lastly, what are some of the rituals you use to be more connected with your body? I love to dance! Every full moon, after placing stones on my body for healing meditation, I write what I want to release and change, then burn the paper with incense and Palo Santo. I have some beauty rituals for my body and face such as : cleaning and hydrating with natural oils everyday; having long baths with salts on Sundays; doing yoga regularly; detox every two months; and swimming. I find water very helpful to connect with my body and feel more rooted.

‘Feelings of inadequacy’ - my birth chart app alarms to tell me this morning. Thank you for the reminder Co-star! I have been trying to understand the roots of feeling inadequate for some weeks now - digging deeper into my subconscious mind. Putting yourself out in the world - whether that is your art or your voice - can be freeing and empowering. But what I didn’t really prepare myself for was what to do with feeling not good enough. Emotional tightness in my chest has been lingering for days while I plan the structure of my workshops. Feeling confused about the language I use: who am I speaking to? Who wants to listen to me? I didn’t go to university. I don't have enough understanding of critical thinking. What I do understand is there is not enough trust in myself. Racing around my mind are voices telling me to trust that the answers are inside my body, if I slow down and listen. And when I do these words start to make more sense to me than ever. My job, my work, my art practice does not determine who I am. They are things that I

illustration by gabby loo

do, but they are not who I am.






V E 38


Movement can allow us to feel more in our bodies and in tune with ourselves - understanding our needs, wants & desires. Dancing and moving can introduce us to the experience of appreciating our bodies in a different way, It moves us from place to place. If we listen to it, it tells us what we need to know, It links us to our intuition and enables us to flow through life. As children, we move and dance without a care in the world; playfulness in its fullest. As we grow older, the idea of movement can make us feel uncomfortable: taking up space, being playful and silly, being watched or judged for the movement we make. Dancing for some can seem only possible whilst no one can see. My question through my workshops has been: what would happen if we gave ourselves the freedom to move intuitively without judgement? There is no right way to have a body, be a body, or move a body. Ahead I talk with Megan Riley about dancing and her experiences moving in spaces free from j u d g e m e n t .

MR // I’m really excited that you asked me to do this, I got really excited reading your questions and I don’t know what I expected, I’m not sure why I would expect anything less from you but I love that you want to go so deep with the questions. CC // Aw thank you. It’s been really lovely catching up with you and seeing your beautiful face on the screen. Let’s dive in with the interview shall we... What has the relationship with your body been like in the past and what is it like currently? MR // That’s a really good question. Reflecting on this, I go back to my childhood. I was a kid with brown curly hair and back then it was very much about Barbie: attractive was having blonde hair and blue eyes. I really remember distinctly having this experience where older women would come to play with us kids and they wouldn’t play with me. Whether that was true or not, that’s my memory. So I just grew up with the idea that I was ugly and unattractive because I didn’t fit this description. Fast forwarding from that, my next big experience was puberty. I remember starting to get boobs and felt it was a little early for me. It was year 7 and I really didn’t want to wear a bra. I was denying my femininity a lot and I thought it would be easier to be a man. Instead of getting a bra, I started hunching over to hide my chest. It caused me so many posture issues and even now I still have to work on standing up straight. The impact that has is really interesting because naturally when you’re hunched over you don't feel as confident - it’s a type of hiding.

It’s taken real practice to stand with my shoulders back. When I got a little older, I then went through this period - I don’t like to say eating disorder, because I was never diagnosed with one - but I had a lot of issues with my body. I was doing a lot of exercise and not eating very much. I was fixated on the idea that I had this roll on my stomach. I had got to a point where I had lost so much weight and I still had that roll on my stomach - I was still unhappy. One day a friend called me out on my habits. She didn’t want to be around me as she was recovering from a tricky time with her own body issues. It made me think about what I was doing and was really grateful for what she said. I started dancing and eating the foods I wanted to eat and changing my lifestyle. Rather than looking at others, looking at calories and looking at the scales, I started liking my body. This ironic thing happened: when I stopped trying to look a particular way and just did what felt good to me - I ended up having the body I wanted. I know now that the way to not have the roll on my stomach would be to do crunches and I could choose to do that if I want to. But I don’t want to, so I am just accepting the body I have. Now I really enjoy the body I am in and don’t view it through the same lens. Of course I still have some insecurities that come up but I think in general I am a lot more aware of it. CC // Thank you for answering so honestly. When you were talking about this roll on your stomach and then went on to talk about having a different lens on looking at yourself, it made me think about this project I am working on at the moment. I have been playing around

with moulds and clay objects - glorifying the parts of the body that are deemed ugly or imperfect in society. During the process of moulding, I am bending my body in positions finding the rolls, bumps and lumps. Instead of letting the negative thoughts flood in (which they could quite easily), it was like having this different lens on. I was looking at the rolls, and just appreciating them for what they are. This wouldn’t happen all the time but I suppose I want to do more now to see what happens. MR // It takes a lot of work of course - like you’re saying. For example, when I am in my bathers that show my tummy, if I see a photo or look down on myself, there is always still some judgement there. It’s

important to be aware of it, and the insecurity that goes with it. Also to remember to send loving thoughts to that body part: this is the body I am in, I might as well learn to love it. CC // I love that. I think the mould making is leading me on a path. Staring at my rolls and the ‘imperfections’ on my skin is helping me to think differently. This is just a part of me, it serves its purpose as a collection of parts. MR // There was an exercise I did once using a technique called tapping. It was really beautiful. You go through your entire body looking in the mirror, starting with your face. You touch each little part and say, ‘I love you and I

accept you,’ or whichever affirmation you choose. The reason you are tapping it, is to embody it. I found it so powerful. It was so interesting to see how many insecurities I have just about my face alone. The exercise really is to sit with that insecurity and you are not allowed to move on until you have felt some kind of love for it. I think my dance practice has really helped with this - it has helped me be really curious about what I am looking at. Instead of looking at it like, ‘oh - I have bags under my eyes,’ with this horrible judgement, it’s like, ‘oh - wow that’s so interesting the way that shape is.’ Seeing it for what it is, rather than judging it. CC // I love that word ‘curious’ and the way you’re using it in this context. I would love to hear more about dancing and moving. Have you always been a dancer? MR // I have been dancing since I was 6 years old, but I stopped when I was about 20 because my back got really bad. My favorite style was contemporary - I loved throwing myself across the room and improvising. I was ignoring my body and when my back got sore I would just get angry and annoyed that my body couldn’t keep up with me. I

went to see a physio and had to wear a back strap for a long time - dancing didn't feel possible anymore. I went travelling a few years later and got invited to a party - a party where no one would be drinking. I thought this sounded weird but it was honestly the best party I had ever been to. Instead of everyone facing the DJ - people were full on dancing amongst each other. I learnt that it was a 5Rhythms event and this type of dance happens all over the world. When I lived in Montreal for 6 months I found a 5Rhythms class and started dancing again. It was like I’d got myself back - there was some spark that had been missing from my life. Getting back into dance was such a blessing for me in so many ways. When I got back to Aus and moved to Melbourne, I started dancing Open Floor. These types of dance classes fall under the term ‘conscious dance’. The difference for me going into this type of dance, compared to what I was doing before, is very much about listening to the body and moving with what’s there. So it was a complete revolution for me - I am not trying to ignore my body anymore and not pushing it beyond what it wants to do. Now I’m asking it how it wants to move. I’ve learnt to work with my body instead of against it.


CC // I love hearing how you’ve found your way back to dancing. In my workshops, I was trying to communicate the idea of free movement whilst removing the idea that you need to look and move a certain way. I am curious to know, what feelings come up for you when you move in front of people. Do you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed? How do you separate feeling like you can move freely vs the idea that you need to look a certain way whilst moving? MR // It has been so interesting going into a dance environment where there are no mirrors: you can do whatever you want, no one is judging you. It was ingrained into me from such a young age you had to look in the mirror and compare yourself to everyone else. Teachers would pull out their favorite dancer and say, ‘this is how you should be doing it.’ This turned into the really bad habit of thinking that I was never good enough. Stepping onto a dance floor now, I still do have a little bit of that there. In the beginning, I would feel quite awkward and insecure in my body. All I wanted to do was face the wall and not look at a single person. I’d have an awesome time but I didn’t want to be seen. I wanted to hide away. It was a really big deal for me just to turn around from the wall but I just showed up every week and faced the discomfort. This was a huge process. CC // & how has dancing helped in your everyday life? MR // The really beautiful thing about that practice is that it’s definitely translated off the dance floor. Being

able to move through a room or approach someone on a dance floor has translated to me being able to walk up to my boss and say, ‘hey I need to talk to you about something.’ CC // Movement is so important in our everyday lives; what our body language is saying and how holding our body can make us feel. This is especially true in environments where we might feel more self conscious. An example for me is being in a meeting where I find myself feeling really small because I am surrounded by more experienced people. Noticing my body language played a huge role in overcoming nervousness and not knowing how to speak up. By noticing how I was sitting and making small movements every now and then - crossing one leg to the other or taking a sip of water - I allowed the nervous energy to move through my body. By not holding anxiety in my throat, I was more at ease speaking up. MR // Sometimes I will go into the bathroom before a meeting and just stand there with my arms up in the air for 5 minutes. There’s a Ted Talk about this actually. This power pose is proven to increase your confidence. Other times I will just shake and move if I am feeling stressed to get whatever I am holding in my body moving. Also, sometimes when I am walking to work, I will listen to music and visualise myself dancing. Being in that dance mentally is a really nice way to start the day. CC // I would find myself doing something really similar when I was living in London. Especially on the daily tube commute!

and there’s lots going on in my head. Maybe that’s what’s making me feel disconnected from my body. Noticing that, and then emotionally being like: ‘what’s going on for me? Oh, there’s something happening in my chest. I’m feeling anxious.’ It’s interesting to just notice those things and then move with them. So if I feel awkward, I’ll do my awkward dance. Usually by starting to embody that awkwardness, it will shift and I will have stopped thinking about all of those things. That is when I will start feeling connected to my soul - that deeper part of me that’s aware and often it's saying, ‘I am here moving in my body and I want to dance.’

CC // What do you experience when you are moving and how do you feel connected with your body? MR // How much time do you have? I feel like I could talk forever about this, haha! So, in Open Floor they talk about there being 4 dimensions of embodiment: your physical body; mental body; emotional body; and soul body, or this essence of self. Moving has given me an experience of all of those bodies in depth and helped me to recognise all of those parts of myself more clearly. When I step onto a dance floor I will notice what is going on in my physical body: ‘oh - I have a bit of a back pain going on,’ or, ‘my hips are tight.’ I will bring awareness to those parts and from there it’ll go to, ‘what’s going on with my mind?’ Maybe I have walked in from a really busy day

CC // Thank you for sharing Megan. What I want to talk to you about now is something that we have kind of touched on already throughout our conversation. You really live by this and it’s so inspiring to watch: the idea of ‘braving the wilderness’. The way you talk about your approach to dancing and moving - feeling fear but doing it anyway. I wanted to hear your thoughts on this. How has that way of living helped you grow? MR // I read a book called Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown last year and for me ‘braving the wilderness’ is about vulnerability for sure. What also comes to mind is that one of my teachers says (something like), ‘your job is just to show up.’ I really love that. It takes the pressure off. I can just be there, and often that is ‘braving the wilderness’. Brene Brown talks about ‘being in the arena’: being willing to show up as you are and speak your

CC // That resonates so much. I was given that book by my therapist because I have been grappling with the idea of belonging. Where does my art practice belong? What am I creating? Who is listening? Who am I talking to? A lot of what I am really asking is, ‘Where do I belong?’ One of the themes from this book is the idea of true belonging; finding true belonging that comes from within. She goes on to reference Maya Angelou: ‘you are only free when you realise you belong no place, you belong every place, no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.’


truth. It’s definitely an ongoing journey for me to be willing to be seen, heard and felt. That looks really different for me depending on the day. Some days I will feel really good and comfortable and can show up in any scenario. And then other days it can be a lot more challenging. But the practice is just showing up and being willing to step in and be seen - even though you might be scared. Sticking with it is really brave. Standing there feeling really scared and weathering the storm - that’s huge and not everyone is willing to do that. In some ways it would seem easier to not step in and just stay hidden. For me that’s staying facing the wall and staying small. ‘Why should I turn around? That shit is hard!!’ But then I know that the things that I fear the most - that’s where the gold is. That’s where I am my best self and doing the things I really want to do. And the things I want to do are the things that seem the most scary. Interesting paradox.

A couple of my teachers talk about this too - about belonging by being who you are. We grow up with this idea that we need to fit in and conform to belong and a lot of us go through this when we are younger. You want to look like the people you want to be. You want to belong and fit in. But true belonging is actually the opposite of that: it’s standing in the true uniqueness of the human that you are and belonging as that. I have experienced that on the dance floor where you can just do whatever you want and be whoever you are. That really has made me feel like I belong. Everyone in that room is completely different - we all dress different and we all look different - but we all belong because we are all showing up as ourselves and dancing together. CC // Megan I am bubbling up with so much love. It’s been so lovely to talk to you and hear your thoughts. I have learnt so much - thank you!

MR // Thank you so much for asking me to do this. It’s been so nice sharing my MR // I love the way she talks about true experiences of something I love to talk belonging being the opposite of fitting in. about so much.

a poem in isolation illustration by gabby loo

Idle lik e a buoy in wate r Waiting. The calm be f or e t he s tor m Pas s ionate f lames Ar e war m linge r ing Be neat h t he s ur face Of a s t able mind Dr eaming. The cr eative ideas f low Lik e lava ins ide a lamp Colour s puls ing Fr om orange to yellow Re f le c tions of my des ir es Look ing back at me Lis te ning. To t he s oft l y s pok e n met aphor s Upon our br eat hs To go ins ide A weav ing s tor y of one's mind Follow t he t hr eads That lead you t he r e Foraging. Thr ough s hadows and pain Re me mbe r ing a s e e d Will not gr ow unles s It ’s hydrate d Wit h e ndles s pos s ibilities Buz zing. Is t he back gr ound s ound To li f e as we k now it Lik e be es w it h t he ir honey Air to your lungs Hands to t he Ear t h Letting go of not letting go.

By Chloe Clements

Ag bod lance mal ies ha at h way e gaze ve be erstory with that i - co en re . Fem rese artist s simp ntinuo presen ale id draw arch a Ella D ly unre usly p ted f entifyi her ing an round abysin alistic ortray rom t ng rela d ho wom g abo . Up ed i he i d tionshi w that h en’s bo ut her next I n a e p wit as he dies t work talk n h her lped h hroug and t own er nav h life i bod igate ya t y nd .


Hi Ella! A little intro to our readers: you are an artist, currently living in South London, practising illustration - mostly women from an abstract & natural lens. What ’s it been like growing up in London? Growing up in London was honestly great. Growing up you meet people from all walks of life and diverse cultures, which really grounds you as a person - it lets you in on how not to fall on being ignorant to what could be perceived as ‘different’ or ‘not normal’. Of course, there were negatives to living in London, but it is important to look to the positives more so. I have really enjoyed getting to know you. your sense of humor and the way you look at the world - jumping into some pretty needed conversations in the process. We have talked a little bit about what it has been like for you to grow up in british culture with Indian parents. Could you tell me a little bit more about your experiences in relation to your identity and how you have connected more with yourself as you have grown older? For me, when I was growing up I never fully understood my heritage because it was never something I held with great importance. I had gone to a very diverse school and there was never a need to be in touch as I had a diverse friendship group and we all treated each other equally. However, as time went on I began to notice how some people, including myself, would get treated differently. This led me to having to take ownership of my

identity and protect it. For instance, there have been countless occasions when people have referred to me as ‘exotic’ or ‘looking ethnic.’ Up until recently I would just laugh this off or make a funny remark. But now I own it and call people out who do refer to me in this way. For me, I feel it is so important to own your identity; not let people take you for granted and let it get lost with a backhanded remark. What was art school like for you? Did you always gravitate towards the representation of women and women’s bodies? I am interested to know where this abstract style and themes emerged from. Art school was such an amazing experience for me. Being able to collaborate and critique with other artists on different paths was a good way to push my practice and understand where it could go. Initially, my practice didn’t always look to drawing women. This became a topic of interest when I started to attend weekly life drawing classes during my art foundation year. I have always found solace in going against the traditional normalities of life drawing. I would use different techniques and mediums during life drawing because I wanted to bring out this living and breathing soul; to become so much more than a perfect sketch on paper. I’ ve heard you describe the way you work : the drawings come from your subconscious. It ’s a really beautiful way to work . When you are doing life drawing, what helps you to feel

*In fine art, the term ‘automatism’ most often refers to a technique of subconscious drawing in which the artist allows her unconscious mind to take control. Bodies are a big feature in your work . What has this been like for you and your relationship with your body? Bodies, in particular the female body, have played a monumental part within my practice and life drawing works,. To be able to create and look to real women for inspiration is something extremely exciting. It has allowed me to see and feel myself in so many


connected to the person you are drawing? Yes, this is correct and thank you! This idea of the subconscious has played a vital part within my practice. It came into my practice during my time at university when I had been exploring the idea of automated* drawing and painting. This idea really took over how I approached each piece; with a clear mindset that focussed on not only the physical outcome of the work, but the mental aspects it touched on too. To be completely in tune with your mind, and allow it to create something physical is fascinating as you can begin to interpret what the mind and subconscious could or may look like. This is why, within my life drawing works, I have always tried to apply this same way of working and taken that workspace into a mediated one that would allow me to create in such a way.

ways; to feel completely comfortable and acknowledge all of it for what it is: a living and breathing body. What do you think the future holds for women in art? There are many points in art history where women have been put on a pedestal, to only be seen as an object of vanity, and not for themselves, because of their portrayal by male artists. Especially with pieces that subject women to be nude. John Berger, touches on this in his book Ways of Seeing:

“ You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting ‘ Vanity,’ thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.” “A woman must continually watch herself.”

However, I am hopeful that because of how things are changing these notions have begun to change with it. Alongside other artists like myself, I want to go against and be in tune with the now and speak through my work on what the real is for women. Never has there been a time like now to do something that goes against what is conventional for women in art. There are so many up and coming female and queer artists that are going in the right direction with their work and are being seen for the right reasons. Their portrayal of women is so important and needed.

& lastly, I am really interested to hear if you have any rituals or practices which allow you to connect with your body? Recently, going to Pilates has been such an energising and engaging experience to have with my body. Understanding what it likes and dislikes has allowed me to treat it with attentiveness; something I hadn’t previously tapped into.

What was initially a one month residency has turned into many months of residency whilst in isolation in the middle of a global pandemic. Amongst everything else, it has been interesting to see the ways this reflective publication has taken many shapes and forms. What began as a fun project to re-shape the way I approach my creativity and to create something that I want to without a deadline, has become a really meaningful journey that I needed to go on to learn how to trust myself. I let fear take the driver’s seat for a while there and edited everything. I took out my reflective voice, put it back in again, took it out, then freaked out and went down a really unhealthy way of seeing myself. I’ve learnt along the way is to trust in what I have and work with it. That is more than enough. ‘I am enough,’ has got to be one of the hardest things that we can possibly say to ourselves and really mean it. I think, more than anything, I have learnt that my mind doesn’t need to be doing the work all the time - my body is the vessel. It knows what's best and I have so much gratitude for it.



Thank you to everyone that participated in my workshops & to those who have supported me continously x x