Page 1

Welcome to Issue 2 of Collage. I am writing this just after returning from my son’s school Christmas Carol concert. It was a beautiful, if chilly evening, enhanced by some wonderful singing. At one point I had to bite my lip to stop a little tear. Which would probably amuse those who know me, as I’m an entrenched atheist. Yet the concert reminded me of something I already know about religion – the way in which it provides a touchstone for people, something more important than oneself to put the world and life into perspective. I wanted to make this Christmas issue of Collage about the Madonna as she is one of the most recognised and central female symbols associated with religion. I am aware of how important people’s religious beliefs can be. Yet the path towards faith (or no faith) is more complex than ever before. The freedom to choose is also the freedom to be confused and lost. Human rights clash with religious traditions. According to the new UK census 14 million people state they have no belief (with even the religion of ‘Jedi’ being on the decline!). As an atheist I was also interested in why women would want to become Bishops in the Church of England – my personal reaction would be to think there are more important things for women to worry about. However, on speaking to women with faith I have been touched by their sincerity and authenticity. I doubt my own atheism will be shaken but I have resolved to be more open minded about the space others give religion in their lives. Of course, we have only scratched the surface on this issue so please share your ideas and experiences with us on our blog. We had a fantastic response to Issue 1 and we are looking forward to continuing next year as a quarterly publication. We have already grown our merry band of contributors and if you have something you feel would like share with us here at Collage we would love to hear from you. Have a wonderful New Year, Alexandria Welch, Editor

A note on copyright

With thanks to all of our contributors. For further details please click below.

Everyone at Collage magazine is committed to artists retaining copyright over their own work. We have been careful to ensure that the images used in this publication have been purchased or provided to us by the creators with copyright permission, or are copyright free or are being used under the ‘fair usage’ protocol shared over the internet (images are low resolution, attributed to their creator, not for profit and used only to illustrate a relevant article or story). If, however, you feel your image has been used by us unfairly and your copyright breached, please contact us at and we will remove the image immediately.

Collage Issue 2 contributors

Cover image ‘Souffle (New Breath)’, detail by Audrey Walas, 2012 Overleaf Untitled by Justin Harris ‘The Cough’, by Alexandria Welch, 2011. 2




This month we showcase work by Rosie Melville and Ruth Geldard, two artists who returned to study fine art after following other paths initially.

Editor Alexandria Welch explores the representation of the Madonna in art.


I will never be a mother Our new writer, Fred Wyver, considers whether it’s only gender that makes a mother.



Womb-an, Interrupted


Images of Evolution Sophia Alba reminds us of the importance of Charles Darwin’s wife, Emily.

The Pram in the Hall


Sandra Oxley explores the tension between creativity and motherhood.


My Religion, My Art Three artists discuss their religion and how it interacts with their art practice.

Sophia Alba questions how technology is changing what is natural when it comes to reproduction.



The Back Page Brace yourself— Leila Yusuf tells us why it’s not the end of the world.

Professor F.M. Era. In this issue, the Prof rages against 24 hour news channels, champions being a little bit Walter Mitty and investigates Chinese feminist art.




Collage Editor, Alexandria Welch, looks at the representation of the Madonna in art. If you Google the words ‘Madonna’ and

ideal that is ‘The Madonna’ has been

‘art’, you can guess what you get. A

re-invigorated by the power of celebrity.

million fanzine images, gossipy articles

In an age where atheism is increasingly

and academic ponderings about a certain

acceptable, there is still a Madonna

pop singer from Michigan. As much as

looming over us.

Ms. Ciccone shaped my early years, she

The representations of iconic figures in

isn’t the Madonna this magazine is

art, whether they are religious, cultural or

interested in. Yet 30 years after her first

political, are endlessly fascinating, not

single was released it would be

least because they reveal to us so much

impossible to consider The Madonna

about the attitudes of the time in which

without Madonna. The singer owes much

they were created. The first images of the

of her early notoriety and iconic status to

Madonna came late in development of

the name she shares with the Virgin

Christianity. As the first Christians were a

Mary. Would ‘Like a Virgin’ have had

persecuted sect they weren’t in a

anywhere near the same resonance if it

position to express themselves openly

had been sung by someone called

and so relied on symbols such as the fish

Rhianna? Would the juxtaposition of sex,

or the anchor. The art work we might

money and power have been as powerful

recognise today as ‘Christian’ began once

if ‘Material Girl’ had emanated from

the religion itself became embedded in

Cheryl Cole? The name Madonna is

the society that was the remnants of the

perfectly acceptable within the Italian

Roman Empire. Images of Christ and

Catholic community in which she grew up

Jonah were the first to become what we

(I was part of it too and used to hang out

would consider art and it isn’t until the

at the Diet Coke stand on the beach with

2nd century AD that we begin to find the

a guy called Jesus). To the world at large

Virgin Mary.

it seemed scandalous that such a holy

The earliest image we have of the Virgin

epithet could be attached to a writhing

Mary is from the Catacombs of Priscilla in

little saucepot with torn tights and too

Rome. Her female image, holding a baby

much eye make-up. Yet the power of the

on her lap, is believed to have been taken 6

Migrant Mother, Image 3, by Dorothea Lange. 1936 from that of the Egyptian goddess of

between Patriarch of Constantinople and

fertility, Isis. This has remained the

the Patriarch of Alexandria) it was agreed

idealised version of the Madonna that we

that Mary was indeed the Theotokos.

still accept as traditional today; a

This literally means ‘God bearer’ but is

nurturing mother, infant cradled on lap.

usually interpreted more loosely as the

From this point on there are an increasing

Mother of God. After this, images of her

number of images of the Virgin, usually


originating from the eastern, Byzantine

The images which developed over the

church. However, in 431 AD, at the

centuries have become defined as specific

Council of Ephesus (an ecumenical council

‘types’ of representation, each imbued

called to deal with disagreements

with its own codification and symbolism. 7

The life of Christ is broadly represented

a little fur (which was considered

through paintings of the Virgin from the

symbolic of lust) with a large serpent

Annunciation, Immaculate Conception

emerging from between her legs. Eve’s

and Nativity scenes through to Madonna

naked breasts offer sexual excitement.

and child images. These include

Those of the Virgin offer maternal

‘Adoration of the Child’ depictions and

sustenance. It is a powerful and unambig-

also the Madonna Lactans type, in which

uous representation of the problems the

the Virgin breastfeeds the infant. There is

Church, and men in general, have coming

also the Hodgeteria representation, in

to terms with women being the providers

which the Madonna raises her hand

of sexual pleasure and life from the same

towards the infant Christ, showing us the

orifice. Are we really surprised there still

way to salvation. Depicting the end of

aren’t women Bishops?

Christ’s life is the Pieta, the most famous

A second image of the Madonna to

of this last type is undoubtedly Michelan-

consider is Virgin and Child surrounded by

gelo’s sculpture in which the Virgin holds

Angels by Fouquet. Also known as The

the dead body of her son across her lap.

Red Virgin, this was painted around 50

Finally there is the Mater Dolorosa, the

years after the Olivuccio work and it

Sorrowful Virgin.

demonstrates how differently the

Considering these representations with an

Madonna was being represented in art,

eye to gender is, of course, rich pickings.

specifically how human she had become.

As with the Madonna/Madonna

The red of the background has begun to

dichotomy, it’s impossible to consider the

represent sexuality, rather than regal

Virgin without considering the whore.

holiness. Her bare breast points at a

Mary the Virgin and Mary Magdalene, the

disinterested infant and there is a distinct

prostitute, are the two women most

lack of warmth or tenderness between

closely associated with Christ’s life and

her and the child (compare this to da

the inference that woman can only be

Vinci’s Madonna Litta in which the pudgy

one or the other is still as relevant today

babe is wrapped cosily in the Virgin’s

as it was a millennium ago. One

arms). The model for this painting was

fascinating painting is The Madonna of

Agnes Sorel, mistress to Charles VII of

Humility with the Temptation of Eve,

France and the infant one of their

painted circa 1400 by Olivuccio of

illegitimate children. The title of this

Ciccarello (also known as Carlo da

painting may be seen to be one of those

Camerino). This depicts a prim,

PR stunts pulled to revise the popular

enthroned Virgin, fully covered in rich

opinion of unauthorised couplings. In

robes apart from one bare breast that is

allowing his mistress to be presented to

offered to the infant on her lap. At her

the world as the Virgin, the King had

feet lies a naked, lascivious Eve, draped in

bestowed upon her the authority he 8

The Annunciation, Rossetti, 1850


Above, earliest image of the Virgin from the tombs of Priscilla, 2C AD Opposite, Fouquet’s Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels, 1450 10

Overleaf, photograph of a prisoner with elaborate tattoo of the Virgin Mary, a traditional tattoo found in Russian prisons. Pieta, by Michaelangelo, 1498-99 11


could not do by marriage.

of us can read, with a sophisticated

In terms of religion though, this painting

literacy, the proliferation of images

represents a huge change in attitude. The

which bombard us daily. We know it is

Christian Evangelist writer, Francis

often in the space between the image

Schaeffer, criticised it as embodying the

itself and the meaning we impose upon

‘loss of [Christian] meaning’ in art. He

it that the power is found.

drew a line from the early representa-

So finally we reach the photograph of

tions of Mary as a symbolic Theotokos,

Florence Owens Thompson nursing her

through to this, where a ‘whore’ is

child, which comes from a series of six

blatantly masquerading as the Virgin. It is

images taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936.

no co-incidence that this takes place in

Our understanding of her situation

the wake of the Reformation and the rise

(coming both from the clues of the

of the questioning voice of humanism. As

image itself and presumably from some

women looking at these depictions of the

historical knowledge of the Great

Virgin we may be more comfortable with

Depression) casts another layer of

Fouquet’s real woman; for Christians it

meaning on the traditional Madonna and

represents the fall of the holy to the

Child pose she is captured in. We see


both the frailty and the strength of

It is important to remember that when

maternal spirit. We see a social history

these works were created, especially

and a critique of the political and

those specifically made for churches, they

economic ideologies of the 20th century.

would have been the most luxurious and

We see the joy, pain, love and hardship

beautiful things many people had ever

of life in one simple image. Is it co-

seen. There was no television or

incidental this image was captured by

magazines or million other images to

a woman? Although it was taken over

diminish their

seventy years ago, personally I

power. People

feel this photograph is the

believed them. Nowa-

Madonna of Our Time.

days, even the most visually disinterested


But don’t worry, I’m not ill. I’m just a man, writes Fred Wyver. I’ve been pondering what I will write here

conspicuously displayed through

for some time, and, my God, writing

consumption. I’ve bought my gender off

about women, and motherhood is a

the peg. Perhaps more than most men,

minefield for a man. And it’s not like I’m

I’ve chosen to be a man. That choice is

just any sort of man, I’m the worst sort; A

what I would like to write about.

middle class, white, relatively affluent,

We don’t generally question our gender

able bodied, well educated, an ostensibly

because (society tells us) there it is,

heterosexual man past his adolescence

between our legs. But can what is

but not yet old. I’m so far up the ladder of

between our legs really be more

social privilege that there are fluffy white

important, more decisive or more forma-

figurative clouds beneath me. And that

tive than what is between our ears?

pisses me off for a start.

Judith Butler thought not. She wrote

I won’t patronize the readers of this

Gender Trouble in 1990; androgyny was

magazine by pretending to understand

big in pop culture, homosexuality had

what it must be like being a woman - as

largely become socially acceptable and

though it’s some sort of disability. I don’t

trans-gender issues were more widely

know what it’s like to put up with my

understood than ever before. Butler’s

fellow men heckling you in the street, to

book hit the mark, and over the next

know that there is probably an artificially

decade became what academics like to

imposed limit to your professional

call established. In it Butler writes that

achievements and to have the ever-

transgressions of gender norms

present, media-magnified, threat of your

(transvestitism, homosexuality,

body hanging over you. I’ve no idea –

transgendered people) are an indication


that something is very wrong with our fundamental conception of gender, or in

What I do know about is my own gender,

her words “In imitating gender, drag

and how it has been cultivated, socially,

implicitly reveals the imitative structure of

to be something aspirational, something

gender itself— as well as its contingen-

to be maintained and something to be 14

cy.”. That contingency is a reversal of the culturally inherited idea that gender is biologically determined; instead proposing that gender is socially constructed. She argues that the simple fact that we can subvert it illustrates its mutability. Gender, Butler says, is a performance. Mostly, though, it is a performance we aren’t really aware of. It is so fundamental to our view of ourselves, so entrenched in our social status, and instilled in us from such a young age that we perform it automatically. We dress in gender appropriate clothing, we act in gender appropriate ways. It is only when this norm is broken that we become aware – sometimes uncomfortably so – of the other possibilities gender holds. The duality of gender as presupposed by the duality of anatomical sex is largely a result of religion. The western Christian tradition is littered with binary gender relationships. Adam and Eve, in whatever form you choose to take them, set up the distinction right from the start. Whatever your views on religion – and I shan’t lie, mine are generally negative – its historical use as a mechanism of political and 15

reproduction. Everything else is

social control is not reasonably

arbitrarily labeled as evil.

deniable. The heterosexual construct – the idea that

This breeding pair – or perhaps the more

exclusive heterosexu-

commonly understood nuclear family – is very useful if you’re in charge. Societies

ality is moral – is

are very difficult to govern, to structure. If

possibly the

you can convince the population that


their paths are set from birth you go a

powerful example

long way towards solving the problem of

of this

governance. Some societies do it with classes, castes or reincarnation.


Christianity did it with genitals.


Times have changed and having a career

sexual taboos exist

is no longer predicated upon having a

to produce a very predictable form of

penis. The church is still struggling with its

sexual congress

ideas about gender in the face of a society that has changed more rapidly than it


could have predicted. Medical and


scientific understanding of biological gender has blurred what used to be clearcut. Feminist and Queer theories have provided every reason to drop the pretense. Yet for most people biology and gender are still deeply linked, only a few variations are more or less tolerated. Butler did not seek to create a state of no gender, to abolish it altogether. She saw the implication of her theory as quite the opposite: “a radical proliferation of gender”. She sought that all the possibilities of gender expression should be accounted for and made available. Between anatomy, sexuality and social 16

expression there are an ocean of variables

never be a mother. But, by Butler, I could

all of which can construct new ideas about

have been. After all, what is it to be a

personal gender.

mother? Is it to be pregnant and give

As religion becomes less of an inhibiting

birth? But then what of those women

factor in personal expression we are

who, unable to conceive, adopt? Are they

finding ourselves instead boxed in by

not mothers too? I think to claim that

consumerism. Fashion – as a business

they are not would be a horrible insult to

concerned with outward appearance - has

people who provide nurture and care to

understood the mutability of gender for

infants who, biology aside, are for all

longer than most sectors of culture. It has

practical purposes their own children.

to a significant degree been helpful with

Through this reasoning we can come to

the forward cultural momentum of

the revelation that the capacity for

Feminism and Queer Theory despite its

motherhood is not determined at birth.

many (and I do mean many) crimes. In

Being born anatomically male does not

return, ‘Gender’ has become something of

necessarily rule it out, and transgendered

a consumer object. It is less noticeably so

people adopting – while highly provoca-

today than it was in the late eighties and

tive for some – is something society is

early nineties, the androgynous look

going to have to come to terms with.

never quite took off in earnest, but it is

Today the anatomical capacity to bear

still perfectly possible to buy a wardrobe

children is just as irrelevant to your ability

full of different genders you can put on at

to be a mother as it is to your career.

will. I have, over the years, varied very

Motherhood is no longer defined by the

much the way I dress, partly as a response

nine months before giving birth, but by

to my own concerns with gender. In my

the lifetime afterward. It is a state of

youth I occasionally wore clothes notion-

mind, a process of care, a performative

ally designed for girls, nothing explicitly

behavior constructed in much the same

gendered – no Eddie Izzard ball gowns -

way as gender. In effect, motherhood is

but I toyed with androgyny at a high level.

another sort of expression of gender, and

Now I have pretty much settled in my own

when we take our thoughts out from

skin. I am comfortable with both my

between our legs we cannot help but

interior gender, the way I consume it and

realize this. I will never be a mother

the way I express it publicly.

because I have chosen to be a man, but I

I began this with a simple statement: I will

didn’t have to. 17

Sophia Alba questions what is ‘natural’ when it comes to reproduction. As the world has become increasingly

natural world to its rhythms and regula-

globalised and technologically advanced,

tions, we are presented with a number of

we are being faced with a number of

options, rather than being dictated to by

questions that once belonged solely to


the realm of science fiction. We now live

For those who are not able to conceive a

in a world where we are no longer bound

child, In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), is an

to our biological traits as technology is

answer to their prayers. It was in 1978

able to manipulate nature. Women no

that the first child was conceived through

longer need to bow to infertility, as IVF

the use of IVF was born. Although there

and surrogacy have allowed them to have

was concern over this process of creating

children with their own genetic code. Not

‘test-tube babies’, our attitudes towards

only are technologies available that can

the process have now

make our eggs and wombs more produc-

changed, so much so that IVF

tive, we are able to manipulate cells to

is now available on the

such an extent that we can remove all

NHS as it is

genetic material from one egg and replace it with that of another, thereby giving rise to a clone. In this article we look at the ways in which the biotechnology industry has impacted our ability to have children, its social impacts and the ethical and moral questions we are forced to face in consequence. Baby Love Evolutionarily speaking, reproduction is one of the prime factors that drives the survival and propagation of a species, and as such it is central to our existence. But as our world ventures further into the technological realm, leaving behind the 18

widely used as a technique of assisted

questions that are raised with IVF. One of


these is the issue of implanting multiple

The process of IVF begins with hormone

embryos into a womb in the hope that at

treatment for the woman to stimulate

least one will develop into a foetus.

ovulation and the retrieval of a number of

However there is a possibility that more

eggs. Sperm taken from the potential

embryos will implant than will be safe to

father is combined with the eggs in a petri

carry to term, which would require the

dish. After a period of incubation, usually

selective abortion of one or more of the

between 2-3 days, embryos are selected

developing foetuses to safeguard the

for transfer into the woman’s uterus.

lives of mother and child. At present in

Pregnancy is successful once the embryo

the UK, a maximum of two embryos for

is able to implant itself in the lining of the

women under the age of 40 and a


maximum of three for women aged 40 or

As with any technology that impacts

over, is permitted.

biology, there are a number of ethical

The selection of embryos for transfer raise questions concerning the genetic screening of embryos for the purposes of selecting genetically desirable traits or the sex of the child. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis may also be performed on an embryo to ensure that embryos do not contain certain hereditary disease causing genes. IVF requires a number of egg cells to be fertilised and only a select few embryos are implanted into the womb. This procedure inevitably leads to the production of more embryos than will be used and raises the question of what should be done with these so called ‘spare embryos’ and who has ownership over them. At present they are frozen, should the couple wish to use them 19

in the future. As these embryos present

concern for the

themselves as a source from which to

vulnerability of

derive stem cells, there remains a

these women.

possibility that the ownership of spare

There are con-

embryos may be transferred from the

cerns about the

individuals concerned to the State for the

implantation of

advancement of stem cell therapies.

multiple embry-

“Google Babies”

os, often more

In recent years, surrogacy amongst

than four, and

women in India for Western clients has

the subsequent

increased dramatically. It is a $2 billion

need for ‘foetal

unregulated industry, as people desperate


for their own genetic offspring turn to the

Many of the surrogates are also required

internet for a solution. For a fee of a few

to undergo caesareans in accordance with

thousand pounds, you can order yourself

the wishes of the commissioning parents.

a ‘Google baby’. These surrogate babies

As the women are largely from poorer,

are made up of the same genetic material

traditional communities, they are derided

as their parents and the embryo is im-

as outcasts. It is a price that the surro-

planted into a surrogate womb. The

gates are often willing to pay for the con-

women who are chosen to become

siderable amount of money they receive,

surrogates are mostly poor, have children

a sum that means they will be able to en-

of their own, and are eager to earn a

sure an education and better future for

veritable fortune for the use of their

their own children.


Vanity Fair

Whilst they are promised premium ante-

In 1997, a team of scientists from the

natal care, once the child is born, the

Roslin Institute at Edinburgh successfully

women are often overlooked. Earlier this

cloned a ewe name Dolly. The news of the

year, Premila Vaghela, a 30-year-old

first cloned mammal stunned the whole

surrogate mother from India, died after

world, not only the public but also scien-

giving birth to a baby commissioned by an

tists themselves. Scientists never believed

American couple. It is estimated that 25,

it was possible for the changes that would

000 children are born every year through

have occurred through age would be able

surrogates in India, and there is mounting

to be reversed and reset so that the DNA 20

could act as a

fulfilment of their own desires and wishes

template upon

than for the child born from such a

which clones

method? The fear is that such

could be

technologies would lead to children being


treated as commodities. Whilst cloning

With this

could potentially be used as a method of


artificial insemination, one must ask if this

concern grew

method is justifiable or responsible. To

about the

replicate life is a dangerous thing, not


simply because it seems to be unnatural,

cloning of

but also because of the motivations

humans, thus

behind it. The scientific curiosity is based

raising many questions regarding

upon a desire to know whether they can

definitions of life and bringing into the

actually ‘create life’, although it is really a

forefront questions of what is acceptable

process of replication rather than crea-

or not.


There has been widespread condemna-

In Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, ‘Never Let Me

tion of reproductive cloning and most sci-

Go’ we see a portrayal of the future

entists as well as religious groups have

where clones are used to harvest organs

stated that this form of cloning should not

for transplantation. These clones, whilst

be pursued. It is also worth mentioning

living in a communal environment which

here that the creation of Dolly the sheep

is ‘normal’, know they cannot reproduce

was by no means an efficient process,

and their fate is either to die so that

with 277 failed attempts.

another may live, or to look after those

Although cloning, used as a method of

who must die. We see in this depiction of

artificial insemination may be a form of

a possible future, a cruelty and selfishness

helping infertility, it does raise concerns

as forms of human existence become

about the desires some may harbour of

commodities and life is reduced to its

replicating a loved one or the selective

most basic material form.

use of DNA from someone with desired characteristics such as health, appearance or intelligence. Is it really inconceivable that some may end up caring more for the 21

Is it really the enemy of creativity? Sandra Oxley considers how becoming a mother affects women artists. “There is no more sombre enemy of

crucial element of women’s struggle to

good art than the pram in the hall,” said

exist on an equal footing in the world. It’s

writer and critic Cyril Connolly in 1938.

what keeps many women in poverty, for

Although coined by a man, the phrase

a start. It takes bright, dynamic citizens

has echoed down the decades as one of

out of the economy and leads to our

the key issues in women’s lives – how to

greatest institutions, Parliament includ-

balance personal fulfilment with what is

ed, being mostly empty of the female

perceived to be the self-sacrificing day to

voice. In some ways, women who are

day routine of motherhood. When the

able to sustain an art practice are in a

personal fulfilment is creative, with all

much better position than women who

the specific and delicate demands of

have to find employment. (How many

creativity, the balance can become even

jobs are operational from 9.30 to 2.30

more difficult to maintain.

and give you 14 weeks holiday a year?

There are creative women who have

That’s what mothers need).

been used to working at 2 in the

The numbers, as far as they can be

morning, creating their own unique work

believed, suggest that art and mother-

schedule, enjoying the possibility of

hood do not mix well.

spending hours just thinking and

“Women artists are as likely to be

planning. For these women, all of that

married as female workers in general, but

stops the second your child emerges into

they are less likely to have children. In

life. Furthermore, babies don’t stay

2003-2005, more than half of all women

babies – personally I found it easier to be

artists and all women workers were

creative with a baby than with a growing

married. Yet only 29 percent of women

child. Schools runs and school holidays

artists had children under 18, almost six

dictate an unshakeable structure to life

percentage points lower than for women

and, for hands on mothers, creativity has

workers in general” National Endowment

to fit in.

for the Arts, 02 December 2008,USA

In the broader picture, what is often

And some women artists concur with

termed the work/life balance is a pretty

this. Maria Lassnig explained, in an 22

‘Everything you ever wanted’, Alexandria Welch


interview with Emine Saner in The

with as in reality, most do not want to

Guardian in 2008,

choose. Having a baby is often the

"When I was young, I was clever enough

triumph of hope over experience. Many

to know that if I got married or had

women artists will have their babies,

children, I would be eaten. I would be

scared but confident they will ‘work

sick if I couldn't paint, and I would be

something out’. Of course, what usually

schizophrenic because I would have

‘works out’ is that their art falls by the

wanted to do both [paint and have a

wayside and becomes what is damningly

family]. So I renounced it. I don't

known as a ‘hobby’.

understand young women who have a

Our cover artist, Audrey Walas-Godfrey

big family and want to make art. I don't

is a new mother of just 2 months. She

think it is possible."

explains how she feels about this huge

In the same piece the artist Ana Maria

change in her life.

Pacheco discussed her working practice.

“Since my baby boy was born I haven't

"I always have a deadline. At the minute,

really tried to think or work on any

I'm trying to finish a large piece. The idea

painting project. I can't see when I could

that you can get up in the morning and

have a few hours ahead to concentrate

go to your studio and get on with your

on any big piece. Life with a new born is

work is very idealistic. If you're as

quite chaotic - in the early stages your

obsessed with your work as I am, you will

priorities are about having a shower and

work whenever you can to get it done."

getting dressed before mid-afternoon!”

She states she doesn’t regret not having

However as I, and no doubt many others


felt, the birth of a baby is closely linked

Paula Rego disagrees, however,

to creativity. Audrey goes on to say,

"I worked like a maniac, the work came

“My son’s birth gave me a new energy in

and came," she says. "If you have a child,

life which I think will naturally help my

all you do is open your legs and it comes

creativity... your creations are what you

out. You don't need an idea behind it. To

are. I never thought I would stop being

do a picture, you have to have an idea

creative and an artist just because I have

and then you struggle over it. Having

become a mummy. I feel I can be both.

children never got in the way of my

These two identities are part of me now,


and have to work together.”

This is what most women will be faced

In her 2008 film “Who does she think she 24

is?” the director Pamela Tanner Bolt

continually address this prejudice when-

examined this very issue by focusing on

ever faced with it. I am reminded of a

the lives of a number of creative women.

poem by the author Marge Piercy in

The film explains that although at least

which she discusses how creativity is

70% of students studying visual arts are

viewed by others.

women, only 30% of work taken up by

“Talent is what they say

collectors or museums is by women. One

You have after the novel

problem is that the subject matter many

Is published and favourably

women work with is not considered

Reviewed. Beforehand what

‘serious’ by the mainstream art world.

You have is a tedious

Women’s bodies, babies, the domestic

Delusion, a hobby like knitting.”

sphere, the female take on sex – all is

One artist in the film makes a poignant

dismissed as lightweight, in comparison

statement about negotiating the balance

to traditional male themes (which one

of her family with her burning sense of

might unkindly categorize as revolving


around ships, buildings and oh, yes,

“I am in the middle of a forest. There are

women’s bodies…..). Debra Wilson, one

no paths. I have no companions. And I

of the directors of the WW Gallery in

hear wolves.”

London says she encounters the problem

But she carries on. It would be as well for

regularly of women’s art being underval-

all women - artists or not, mothers or not

ued, even by the women themselves.

- to remember these last lines from

“A woman will price her work at £600

Marge Piercy’s poem.

pounds. A man would come in say ‘I want

“Work is its own cure. You have to

£6000 for it.’”

Like it better than being loved.”

The mothers in ‘Who does she think she is?’ also talk about being judged,

‘Who does she think she is?’ website

criticised and belittled for their choices.

The Rachel Papers, a blog by artist and author Rachel Power discusses art and motherhood.

They are damned for not taking their art seriously enough – they are criticised for not putting their children first. It’s a tired old situation and one women artists

Overleaf opposite, Maternité, Marguerite Gerard, 1795

share with working women in general, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t 25



In this issue the Professor chews over 24 hour rolling news, Chinese feminism and why it’s OK to be a little bit Walter Mitty ... Since Issue 1 of Collage the world of

walking down the street now. The

television has changed forever as a result

presenters sit as tense as piles sufferers,

of the Jimmy Saville/Newsnight/Philip

their faces strained as they pray, please

Schofield v. David Cameron/George

God, let something happen. We’ve sent

Entwhistle’s salary debacle. So who am I

five vans, twelve reporters and the

to think I am so superior I can’t give the

winner of a Newsround Junior Journalist

BBC a good kicking? Though it’s not

competition to cover this story and the

specifically the BBC itself I want to turn

whole thing’s been a complete waste. So

my attention to but the evil known as 24

there’s a collective sigh of relief when a

hour news channels….

dead body actually floats past or an old

24 hour news channels are the most

lady’s house collapses. Phew! Another

wasteful and pointless thing on TV – even

good day at the studio.

more so than that ghost programme

I remember reading, many years ago, an

starring Danny Dyer. They are nothing

interview with a Palestinian psychologist

more than a cartoon channel for people

living in Gaza. She said she never watched

who think they’re clever. Such people

the news, or let her children watch it. It

(you know who you are) boast – oh, we

would destroy us and make us too

have News 24, or Fox or CNN or, if they’re

terrified to live, she said. For those of us

being frightfully chi-chi, Al Jazeera – and

living in a peaceful country where survival

we have it on all the time. Why? There’s

isn’t a daily challenge, a complete ban on

not that much news! You can tell there’s

the news may be extreme but there’s no

not that much news because when

need to be inundated with it all the time.

something really happens – a tsunami or

Graham Davey, a psychologist writing in

hurricane, a President massacring his own

Psychology Today considers the damage

people or Kate Moss saying something

done by television news.

intelligible, the news channels latch onto

“…there is also an increasing tendency

it with the ferocity of a banned fighting

for news broadcasters to ‘emotionalise’

dog. Hours and hours of dull footage,

their news and to do so by emphasizing

waiting for a person who might just be 28

any potential negative outcomes of a

lived through decades of it. The origins

story no matter how low the risks of

are lost in time to all but the history

those negative outcomes might be.”

professors. Or what brought Syria to its current situation as bloodbath? Or why

In other words, they ramp up the misery

Putin has such a stranglehold over

to make it all the more dramatic. This

Russians that they don’t burst out

emotionalising of the news is clear –

laughing every time he wrestles a

listen carefully to any news headlines and

tranquilised bear? I’m not suggesting

you will hear how much ‘spin’ has been

you make more of those tedious, over

put into the phrasing, how many

produced ‘drama- documentaries’ that

pejorative words are used rather than

must cost the equivalent of a city

clear, neutral language.

hospitals’ annual budget. I mean some

There probably aren’t that many of us

simple, clear research, presented by well

who sit and watch the news channels for

-informed people (OK, if they’re

hours at a time, so you might wonder

academics, I’ll approve a make-up and

what the problem is. Yes, it’s convenient

hair budget). It would be useful, quite

to have channels that can update you on

cheap and dare I say, possibly

events whenever you want. But do they?


Often, when I turn on outside the hourly

The most frightening thing about 24

headlines, I am met by a blank faced

hour news channels is the influence they

presenter trying to think of something to

have on the decision making process of

say – or a sports roundup or another

our elected officials. Constantly trying to

review of the newspapers. If I want quick

keep the media on-side (and don’t we

and informative news, I’m more likely to

know how, Mr. Cameron, LOL) how

find it on the net.

many political decisions are made with

My suggestion, new director-general of

an eye to the headlines coming on in 10

the BBC (I haven’t bothered to remember

minutes? How many statements are

your name as I’m doubtful you’ll last long)

rushed through to fit in with the media’s

is that you use the hour in between the

schedule, rather than the media fitting in

headlines for some thoughtful, well

with the governments? I dream of a

researched background stories to current

world where the PM’s PA doesn’t have

news events. I can barely remember how

to worry about how his hair looks on

or why the issues between Palestine and

screen. Just think of a world where our

Israel became so devastating and I’ve 29

government is made up of people who

to tell the difference between the fantasy

are in their post due purely to their

and the reality of that weekend (not

abilities and not the televisual

unless they cross checked with Clooney’s

personalities? Then, instead of the Clegg/

memories too…)

Cameron nice suit parade, we’d have…..

As Nancy Sinatra sang “You only live

oh no, on second thoughts, that’s just as

twice … once for your life and once for


your dreams.” Being a bit of Walter Mitty

A few years ago I was fortunate enough

(the character made famous in an old

to spend a weekend at George Clooney’s

Danny Kaye film, who gets into trouble

villa in Italy. It was great – we drank

for making up fabulous stories about his

Negroni’s, sped around the lake in his

life) is pretty much frowned upon. You

gorgeous re-conditioned Riva speedboat

can’t just fantasise, you have to DO It! BE

and just hung out with a load of glamor-

IT! LIVE IT! Or else you’re nothing…. Well,

ous good looking people. And after dark

you know what? Personally I don’t have

… well, that would be telling.

the time to do, be and live all the things I

The fact that whilst I was doing this, I

fancy, so some of them I just imagine. Of

was also lying in bed with the flu is

course, I’m not suggesting you let it bleed

barely worth a mention. My body might

into real life and tell your new lover that

have been at home fighting off germs,

were out late working for MI5, or tell the

but my imagination was having a bloody

bank manager that the 10 million you

fabulous time. I’m pretty sure if I were

won on the lottery will be deposited any

kidnapped by aliens and had my

day now, honest… But there is much more

memories probed, they wouldn’t be able

room for imaginative play in our lives. If you’re creative, not playing will be the death of your art. If you’re not creative, not playing will be the death of your soul. It’s generally considered now that a bit of aimless wandering play, using only the imagination, is one of the best things for children in their development. Well, it’s one of the best things for adults too. If your recreation is all about achieving and 30

winning, why not experiment with a bit of

although we are unapologetically a

aimless imaginative fantasy?

magazine for and about women artists

There’s a great episode about imagination

and gender based issues, we certainly

in SpongeBob Square pants (which if you

didn’t want to exclude men and their

don’t watch because you’re a ‘grown-up’

ideas and opinions. However, we’re

then shame on you – it has more wit,

learning that if you stick your head above

drama and pathos than any HBO mini-

the parapet, some people like to take pot

series). SpongeBob’s nemesis, the self-

shots. There’s the male artist who won’t

important Squidward, finds his neighbour

publically support us on the basis that he

has taken to hanging out inside a giant

doesn’t have breasts (moobs count,

cardboard box. The noises that come from

darling). Another male reader comment-

box suggest a whole world of adventure

ed that we were a bit ‘womanish’. Well,

and excitement – cars racing, elephants

duh! Do they know there are countless

squealing, drinks clinking. But when he

publications aimed purely at women

looks inside, there’s just SpongeBob and

littering up the magazine racks? Good

his friend Patrick sitting in an empty card-

Housekeeping? Woman & Home? Has

board box. Squidward is perplexed – is the

anyone ever been surprised that they are

box magic? Is SpongeBob tricking him?

a ‘bit womanish’? Or are ‘women-only’

Why is SpongeBob so damn happy and

publications fine when their sole purpose

seemingly having so much fun? Eventually

is to bury us in an avalanche of diet tips

SpongeBob reveals the secret. They are

and glittery shoes? To be honest, I quite

using their …. imaginations.

like a flick through a fashion’n’home magazine and as a mother it genuinely is useful to know how many months you

The Editor has brought some responses

can leave a cooked chicken in the fridge

to issue 1 of Collage to my attention.

before it will poison your family. But

We’ve had some wonderful feedback

there is a definite sense of unease when

(otherwise there probably wouldn’t have

women’s magazines start to focus

even been an issue 2) but there have

seriously (without a giggle or a pink dress

also been some interesting responses

or a cupcake in sight) on politics or

from men. Now, we have brilliant men

economics or art… areas that are tradi-

on board (thank you to Kevin, Justin and

tionally male?

our new writer Fred Wyver) and 31

Flicking through the pile of weekend papers a while ago I came across a supplement dedicated to ‘luxury’. Although the word always making me think of over-priced loo roll, I took a wander through its world of private jets, solid gold bidets, bespoke leather door knobs and opals set into the shape of jellyfish. By the time I’d reached the last page (I think it described how a £2000 ski jacket was stuffed with an extra special kind of virgin swansdown dipped in plutonium) the abiding impression was… China. There was an interview with Frida Giannini, the designer at Gucci, which takes places in Shanghai, where she discusses what a powerful market the Chinese have become. There’s an article on the most fabulous hotel suites you could stay in for a mere £15,000 a night. Most interesting is the fashion spread, where a Chinese model, Emma Pei, drifts around a bamboo forest in a series of evening dresses (none of which cost less than 5k). Pei and the increasing number of East Asian models working in Europe and the States have achieved something that black models, ‘fiercely real’ models (as Tyra Banks cutely calls plus size) and models with disabilities have all tried and failed to do – Emma Pei’s beautiful face, with her distinctly Chinese features, is


synonymous with luxury. And with luxury comes wealth and power… China being the ‘new frontier’ isn’t news to anyone. Not only is it interesting to understand the situation in which women find themselves in contemporary China and important in terms of ‘sisterhood’, it’s also important to us as women elsewhere in the world. China’s economic power means it is increasingly in a position to export culture and social attitude along with toys, electronica and weapons. Whilst the Chinese currently seem to be embracing western culture, everything from a classic British education to a You Tube fetish for Benedict Cumberbatch, the divide is porous and works both ways. It might start with Emma Pei selling us a face cream but my bet is that soon there will be Chinese influence in all areas of culture as well as politics, economics and manufacture. So, in a country where such radical social upheaval dominated the 20th century, isn’t it vital we try to understand where Chinese omen are today? Sad to admit, but my early knowledge of Chinese women was gleaned from the ‘The World of Suzie Wong’ – great clothes but tragic prostitutes being punished by society aren’t an uplifting representation of anyone’s culture. This was followed by Jung Chan’s book ‘Wild Swans’ and the actress, Michelle Yeoh high-kicking her way 33

through a Bond film and Crouching Tiger,

ago. Irrespective of laws passed, social

Hidden Dragon (in fact she is Malaysian

norms still dictated that women occupied

not Chinese). We know ‘facts’ about

a secondary role to. As feminist artist Li

Chinese women, such as they can only

Xinmo stated recently, “Feminism has 50

have one baby, they used to have their

years of history in Europe and the US,

feet bound and they have an unwhole-

but, in this country, no one talks about

some fondness for logos. It can be easy to

women’s rights – especially—

make casually racist assumptions. Even

when human rights are still a taboo,”

my beloved Private Eye mistakenly

Li Xinmo took part in an exhibition earlier

described Wendi Deng, the Chinese wife

this year that may prove to be turning

of Rupert Murdoch as being from ‘the

point in Chinese feminism. Claiming it to

Land of Rising Sun (er, that’s Japan…),

be the first feminist art exhibition ever in

leading us to consider the unpalatable

China, Li and her fellow women artists,

notion of ‘them’ all looking the same.

Lan Jiny and Xiao Lu created the show ‘Bald Girls - From Tribal Thoughts to

Feminism in China seemed to achieve success early on in the 20th

Queer Culture’ which was held at the

century. Chinese suffragettes stormed

Iberia Centre for Contemporary Art in

parliament in 1912 and the May the

Shanghai in spring 2012. Whilst there may

Fourth Movement was inspired by the

be some issue taken with the ‘first

women’s rights movement which

feminist show’ epithet, it’s certainly true

demanded an end to polygamy and

that the coming together of these three

arranged marriage as well as calling for

powerful women artists caused a stir in

women’s right to higher education. In the

the art world with international interest

1950’s the People’s Republic introduced

focused on it.

what appeared to be a radical reform,

Xiao Lu was hailed as China’s first

abolishing the ‘head of the family’,

contemporary feminist when she created

allowed women to earn property rights

her graduation piece ‘Dialogue’ way back

through their housework duties and to

in 1989. It consisted of two phone boxes,

bequeath that property to their children.

a man in one, a woman in the other with

Furthermore, women such as Song

a cord between them. Armed with a hand

Qingling and Jiang Qing were politically

gun, Xiao Lu fired two bullets into the

powerful. However, it has been pointed

piece (apparently because her professor

out that their power only came via their

had described it as being ‘too complete’).

husbands (Sun Yat Sen, leader of the

That ‘Bald Girls’ almost didn’t happen

1911 revolution and Mao Zedong respec-

because the authorities demanded the

tively). It’s as if the wider social revolu-

removal of two works by Lan Jiny is a

tion left no space for the one on gender

testament limits on freedom Chinese

and Chinese feminism stalled decades

artists work within. Jiny removed the 34

work in order to ensure the show could go

China. Although she began as a painter

ahead but it was missing a painting of her

she was transformed by the avant-guard

depicted as similar Jiang Qing and a video

art world in Beijing in the early ‘90’s and

piece about Ai Wei Wei’s arrest.

studied performance art with Marina

The centre piece of the show was when

Abramovic. Experiencing ‘Happy Yingmei’

the three artists shaved their heads at the

was disturbing, powerful and beautiful.

opening and left three piles of hair. Along

Based on the Oscar Wilde story ‘The

with Li Xinmo’s piece ‘The Barber’s

Happy Prince’ Yingmei is tucked away

Barbie’s’ in which she shaved and painted

from the main gallery through a specially

with tar the heads of shop window

cut Hobbit sized door. Going through you

dummies, the exhibition played with the

enter a dark, wintery forest. From the

notions of gender and what it is to be

shadows the artist emerges slowly,

masculine or feminine in a way barely

singing sweetly. She comes closer, until

seen in contemporary Chinese art. In an

she is staring intently straight into your

interview for the New York Times the

eyes, as if she’s assessing your soul, then

artists cite the problem of women only

hands out a drawing or story. The overall

being powerful through their husbands.

impression is of visiting a wise woman or

Xioa Lu is quoted as saying,

a priestess – it’s intensely personal and

“No matter what female hero you look at

intimate and very female.

in Chinese history, at their side they all

One of the great things about art is that it

had a very powerful husband. And only by

helps us to explode ‘facts’ and challenge

using their husband’s power did they

our own assumptions. Whilst the work of

realize their goals and influence. In China,

the women artists discussed in this piece

women don’t have their own power that

have been criticised at one time or anoth-

truly belongs to them.

er for being naïve or a little old fashioned

“So women and men really aren’t equal,”

in their approach to gender, it is exciting

she said. “I think Chinese women’s libera-

to see how a new generation of women

tion will depend on each woman taking

are experiencing feminism. For us in the

power for herself, really for herself, and

West, sitting on our 100 years of organic

not with a man. And only in that way will

feminist development, it’s vital we open

Chinese women gain equality.”

up to the work, philosophy and politics of

Another female Chinese artist gaining an

women artists working in China.

international reputation is Yingmei Duan. I Previous Page

saw her piece ‘Happy Yingmei’ at the

Top, The Barber’s Barbie, Li Xinmo. Centre, Happy Yingmei, by Yingmei Duan (image Linda Nylind) Artists, Li Xinmo, Lan Jiny and Xia Lu after shaving their heads at the opening of ‘Bald Girls’.

Hayward (Art of Change, Southbank) recently. Her work is not so blatantly confrontational in terms of gender and gives us another way into women’s art in 35

Rosie Melville’s Non Compos Mentis (Latin for ‘not of sound mind’) series of mixed media sculptures was greatly influenced by her degree in Biomedical Sciences. Since 2009, Rosie, who is based in Medway in Kent, has been concentrating on developing an art practice. Currently studying for a degree in Fine Art, Rosie’s work has developed rapidly over the past few years. Her ink and bleach series ‘Omorfia Sol’ Omorfia Ena’ and Omorfia Kyria’ are the result of experimenting with the free-flowing, spontaneous nature of medium. Rosie likes to use found materials and personal possessions in her Non Compos Mentis series because they hold memories unique to their previous owner’s life. Rosie’s fascination with historical cataloguing and museum archives is clear in her work. Originally she drew inspiration for the Non Compos mentis series from the 19th century, looking at the Victorian’s attitudes towards medicine and mental health. She was influenced by research at the Hunterian Museum and the Old Operating Theatre in London, along with research into old fashioned insane asylums. In this series of works Rosie focuses of the subject of mental health, exploring instability in a visual form. This is juxtaposed with the order of museum archives, to create an emotional tension that is both provocative and oddly comforting. For more information on Rosie Melville’s work click here


Right, Ormorfi Kyria Below left to right, Non Compos Mentis 5, 4 and 6


Ruth Geldard has been exhibiting widely since the 1990’s. Her early, much admired works were generally accomplished watercolours portraits, including a residency at a branch of Asda in 2006 where she created vivid portraits of the staff. However, Ruth’s work has taken a different path since 2009 when she returned to formal fine art study. Her recent work has been sculptural and specifically explores how gender relates to the viewer’s interaction with the materials used. Her collection of sculpture/ assemblage takes the natural, such as wood, bird skulls or coconut shells and inserts into or covers it with made materials like resin or knitted fabric. This results in suggestive, rather sensuous pieces which are given titles that question the gender of acts such as ‘To Nurture’ (opposite), ‘To Heal’ or ‘To Smother’. Beyond this Ruth has created a wide variety of work, often exploring gender. Above, To Cover Opposite top, Ripe Opposite bottom left, To Nurture Opposite bottom right, To Skirt

More information about Ruth Geldard’s work can be found here.



Three women artists discuss their personal journeys into faith and how that has affected their art and creativity Emma Cuthbert reveals the life-changing experiences she has had whilst discovering Vipanassa meditation.

they did and I consider the two of them my heroes, my rescuers. For me I can only describe the practice as a gym for the mind; like climbing a big mountain in the mind. Here we train to

So, at the age of 33, after making a

be in the present moment and to

bunch mistakes and collecting a fair few

acknowledge the truth of and in each

sins, I discovered something very

moment. When we slow down and give

special: an insight meditation practice

ourselves time to notice what is really

called Vipassana. Without a doubt it has

going on in our minds and in our bodies,

changed my life, I would even go so far

the truth begins to show itself. As we

to say it has saved it.

learn with personal guidance from

In January of this year on a lengthy trip

teachers to become more mindful,

to Thailand, I sat in the courtyard of a

wisdom can begin to arise and we

guest house I was staying at, and typed

gradually learn to overcome things that

into the Google search engine

affect us all as humans, such as anger,

"meditation retreats". A few days later I

impatience, pain, worry, laziness, greed,

found myself at a meditation centre.

and desire.

Completely ignorant of the practice and

I have never read the book or seen the

to the true benefits of meditation, I

film Eat, Pray, Love, but Javier Bardem or

decided to dedicate a full five days to it.

his equivalent definitely did not fall in

At the time five days without a phone,

love with me. I have however had a few

books, music, internet, sightseeing,

deluded crushes on people, come face to

socialising, make up and alcohol seemed

face with scary and ugly faces, have

to me like a huge commitment. But

realised some horrible self truths,

thankfully I was persuaded by a teacher

endured hours of pain and enjoyed vari-

and an assistant teacher to stay and

ous fantasies. These are just a few of the

complete the full twenty-one day

conditions I've encountered in my

course, I am so grateful to them that 40

Opposite, Contemplation, S. Nasser


meditative state as a beginner.

help the Teachers, to help and welcome

In March I flew back to England, in many

other meditators to the centre. I could

ways feeling a lot lighter, mentally and

not refuse the opportunity because of

physically and a lot more relaxed about

how much the kind people here and the

the uncertainty of my future. The method

Dhamma (the teaching of truth) has

has helped me to overcome many things,

helped me.

an eating disorder, nail biting, an

My situation is not without its ego

unhealthy need to get drunk and I have a

difficulties. I have also had to face

better understanding or view of my

conflict with a teaching assistant. She

depression. I also believe it took my

seemed so unforgiving of my mistakes,

artistic ability to a new level, surprisingly

so impatient with me and would often

to me as a few months before I had no

look at me with disdain. At the time I

idea I could draw at all. Of course I cannot

would have described her behaviour as a

prove these benefits to you. Some

bully. In My naivety I thought that

religions say you simply have to believe

everybody here would be kind and

but The Buddha instructed people not to,

peaceful and many are but I soon

He said, do not believe me or what any-

realised that this is the whole point. All

body tells you or take what you read in a

humans have things to overcome,

book as the final truth but try for yourself

whether it is anger, impatience, fear and

and discover for yourself.

more. We all have good parts and bad

After a few months exploring creativity

parts. What could I possibly learn if

with my paints and pencils, I knew in my

everyone is charming and complimentary

heart that I had to return to the Temple.

all the time? Yes, a conflict like this did

The practice along with its benefits had

make me want to leave, to go back home

also brought some buried defilements to

to see my family and friends. But I am

the surface. My anger and impatience was

not going anywhere just yet. A wise

at times evident and in need of address-

teacher said to me in passing "it will

ing. So, grateful that I had no home,

make you stronger". His few words were

boyfriend, job or pets to consider, in July I

enough encouragement for me to soldier

found myself back in Northern Thailand

on. I began to think that perhaps that it

and have been here ever since. I now

is something I needed to overcome.

continue to learn and practice and have

Perhaps it is my Karma or maybe her

been given a wonderful opportunity to

anger mirrors the hidden and not so nice 42

part of me that is in need of love and

with the help and guidance from some

kindness. Who knows, I am no expert but

very special and very kind people. All I can

what I do know is that everybody here

do from this moment on is be good and

wants to be, and is trying to be a better

try, try, try to live by the five Buddhist

and improved human being and I respect

precepts and try wherever I can, to be

anyone with the good intention to do so.

kind and giving and not because someone

Good people can do not so good things

has told me to or from something I've read

and not so good people can change. I

but from what I have learnt from insight

also know how incredibly lucky I am to


have found this place and even luckier to

The more I learn, the more the religious

have the time to give to myself and to be

aspect become evident. My original

in a position to help others learn to cope

purpose to try meditation was purely for

and deal with whatever life may throw at

self-improvement. Now I'm beginning to

them. The person I was in conflict with,

see that it is so much more than that. Even

has now become a very good friend of

though it is still the main objective I have a

mine, I recognise the purity of her heart

different and new understanding

underneath it all. I'm much better

regarding life and death, a more

equipped if something similar should

compassionate view of my own and other

happen again and I appreciate the

peoples' mistakes. I have a deeper

lessons it taught me.

understanding about the law of karma and

One day I asked my teacher about an

I am learning how to truly forgive. I see

image I had seen during a sitting medita-

that everybody deserves a chance or

tion. She told me it symbolises three

maybe a few.

things: adultery (shamefully, true),

In the past I was often trying so hard to be

alcohol abuse (that too is true) and

good that I would suppress some negative

abortion (also true). At this point my

emotions, thinking “no, it's wrong to be

heart sank, I went cold and I realised the

angry or resentful�. Here I have had to

biggest thing I have learnt throughout

learn to feel these emotions in order to let

this discovery process is that I don't

them go, without acting on them, without

know very much at all. After the initial

shouting and screaming or being

basic course and five ten-day retreats I

aggressive. There are so many good

know that this is just the very beginning

people in the world dedicated to passing

of what I can really learn from myself,

on the teachings of Buddha. The lessons 43

In conversation with our editor, Sophie Jongman discusses her Rastafarian beliefs and how they help to sustain her creativity.

are timeless, pure, simple and unchanged. It is simply the Truth. I am not from a religious family, though I am fortunate enough to have parents who are kind and follow a moral code. If ever I have

My religious life came from an experience

another chance at becoming a parent, I

I had in 1999. I wasn’t born into a reli-

will without a doubt welcome those

gion. My parents were atheists. However,

children in to a world with Buddhism. I

I was in India and I had this desire to go to

wish that mindfulness was part of the

religious places. I didn’t know exactly

education system; it might have been the

what was going on but I went into a Hin-

very thing to keep me at school (I left at



temple. I was amazed at it, the size

of the gods, their beauty. Then I came to

The experience here has been a hard one,

a Ganesh (the Hindu elephant headed

at times scary and at times lonely, but I

god of wisdom) and suddenly my knees

know it is only good for me. I am more


accepting of myself, and kinder to myself.

As I wasn’t born into a religion I had to

I take responsibility for my own suffering

choose and it took me about six years. Six

with a lot less blame. I am less greedy for

years of deliberation or trying to choose,

material objects, and notice that I am

which one, which Book? I was interested

often calmer and more at peace, but I

in them all, including Hinduism and I

also know there is still a lot of work to be

move in Christian circles but eventually I

done and so much more to learn. I feel

chose to be a Rastafarian. It’s a new

excited about my future, whatever it may

religion and it was oppositional to the

bring and I am incredibly grateful for

state in the West Indies and Jamaica.

where I am right now, in this present

Rastafarians were persecuted but I knew


some who had gone out of their way to

Vipassana means: to see things as they

help and instruct me.

truly are; the true nature of reality.

Rastafarianism bases itself on the Book of Revelations in the Bible. It’s one of the most significant pieces in the Bible and when I read it that was one of the reasons I chose to be a Rastafarian. When I read Revelations it meant everything to 44

Madonna, Sophie Jongman

me. It described my life.

take me seriously. They were quite

I don’t understand why people would be

dismissive and just made me jump

tormented by their religious beliefs but I

through hoops. If I wanted to get to God I

recognise that they are. Perhaps,

had to do this, this, and this – it took me

because I came into it later on in life, I

away from myself. If there is any torment

think it’s important to just find your own

in what religious people feel I imagine it’s

way. I think religious instruction is where

within that hierarchy of instruction.

the origin of torment can be. I went to

As for the role of women in Rastafarian-

church briefly but I found that they didn’t

ism … I don’t know. Drumming is 45

important within the religion and I have

teachings. Art comes from deep down,

heard that there are places where they

from inside oneself. I’m not West Indian,

don’t allow women to join in the

I can’t be that. I don’t have dreadlocks –

drumming. Yet there is a struggle anyway

it would pull my hair out! So it’s all about

for women in society, therefore for wom-

the stories. I’ve done various religious

en in religion too. I was drawn to religion

figures, John the Baptist and Jesus, with

because it gave me a sense of dignity. I

dreadlocks. So it comes out more literally

felt anger at the struggle at being

in my ceramics rather than my paintings.

oppressed and I found answers within the

I don’t force creativity at all and even

scriptures. It was something that relaxed

though I decided at the beginning I was

me. This is really controversial but the

going to have a general aim towards

scriptures say Adam came first. Once I

religious subjects, that’s something that

understood that, there was no battle. We

just fitted in my heart. When I’m going to

came from his rib. I know a lot of people

do something, it doesn’t come from my

think that’s baloney, but actually under-

head. I completely relax. Sometimes I

standing that it’s a man’s world helps me.

meditate. Actually I love blank canvases

My nature is to be very companionable. I

more than anything. Sometimes a scene

know I can be more than that but I love

will come and it’s not necessarily reli-

people and being a companion. Those

gious. I don’t push it on anyone that I’m a

religious stories help me to be as close to

Rastafarian but I took 6 years to choose it

my nature as possible.

so I think this is for life. It gives me sense

My art comes from within so I’ve made a

of purpose and dignity.

decision to do religious stories. At the time I was choosing my religion, I started

Living as a Phoenix … Gillian Lowther explains how she cherishes her Quaker faith.

doing art. I was fixated on art and it coincided with the decisions I was making about religion. I decided to purposely

It is very hard to summarise my spiritual

make it a theme. It was all new to me,

life, but there are some things I can say

religion and art so it was a way of

clearly. The first is that for me there is

discovering more.

no boundary between the sacred and

There are no separate religious stories in

the secular. To sit on the loo and

Rastafarianism, although some Rastafari-

breathe a thankful thought to Thomas

ans are more inclined towards Moslem

Crapper or Joseph Bazalgette is every bit

teachings, whereas I lean to the Christian 46

as sacred a moment as to marvel at the

believe in good?’ Have I got the vision to

dedication and craftsmanship of West-

see the smallest as well as the greatest

minster Abbey, the Neasden Temple, the

goodness? How wonderful that any Tom,

Lindisfarne Gospels or many similar

Dick and Harry were able to nominate the

wonders. Viewed this way, spirituality is

Olympic torch-bearers from the public,

life and life is spirituality. It is quintessen-

who had wrought unsung miracles in small

tially a process of mindful ‘worth’ship.

corners of our daily lives. How heart-

Moreover, the clearest way of perceiving

warming that it wasn’t just the millions of

it is in each other. As a Quaker, I am

the celebs that counted, but also the

sometimes asked if we believe Christ was

‘widow’s mite’!

the Son of God. Definitely, but so are we

To do this one needs to be ‘in tune’ with

all, though He was undoubtedly a fuller

life. It is this harmony I aim to achieve. It is

expression of it than me! But my goal in

a responsibility and a privilege that each

life is to realise this remarkable

individual, not just priests or intermediaries

opportunity as fully as possible, and

on our behalf, may have access to the

where possible to help others along the

spirit/Spirit, or whatever we may choose to

same journey, as I myself have been

call Him/Her/It. The paradox of life lies in

helped by innumerable people past and

the infinite


can a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis?

I readily admit that there are many of all

How can this fragile being migrate to Africa

faiths who are more spiritual than me,

(painted lady butterflies)? How can a vul-

and better and more dedicated human

nerable flower push through apparently

beings. But the archetypal dying and

impenetrable surfaces? When the

rising so graphically expressed in so many

sion of this paradox is just right, one can

cultures in the form of the phoenix, and

move mountains. ‘Whatever you can do, or

in the Christian in the resurrection of

dream you can do, begin it, for boldness

Christ, to me implies amongst other

has power and magic in it.’ (Goethe). I

things, an imperative to recycle. An

recently read of an Australian Olympic

imperative and a power. All the deeds,

rowing champion (forget which year) who

words and thoughts that misfired can be

slowed his boat down mid-race in order to

recycled into something positive.

allow a family of ducks to pass in front of

Another question we are sometimes

his boat unharmed, and still won. He had

asked is ‘Do you believe in God?’ My

the genuine Olympic spirit, and the right

reply might be another question: ‘Do you

priorities. 47

nature of a finite being. How


Sophia Alba writes about the life and faith of Emma Darwin It has been more than 150 years since

but what about the great woman that is

Charles Darwin published the Origin of

meant to stand behind each great man?

Species and yet there continues to be an

What we often hear about Emma Darwin

ongoing battle between its supporters

(nee Wedgewood) is that she was a

and deniers. The evolution debate has

religious woman, married to the father of

largely been represented as a war

evolution. We are told that Charles

between progress (science) and tradition

Darwin held off from publishing his theory

(religion) and has led to fundamentalism

of evolution by natural selection for fear

on both sides. This metaphorical war has

of upsetting Emma and offending her

been perpetuated by both the atheist

religious sensibilities. According to such

fundamentalists who view atheism as a

accounts, it would appear that Emma and

natural consequence of evolution, and

her faith were more of a hindrance than a

also by creationists who deny the validity


of the theory of evolution and see it as an

History is littered with the untold stories

attack upon religion.

of women, those stories that are over-

As evolution remains firmly in the politi-

shadowed by their husbands and by their

cal realm, optimizing the science vs. reli-

obligations. Yet there are lives that are

gion wars, we are presented with a num-

uncovered in the forms of diaries and

ber of images. Today, the opposition to-

letters; fragments of joys, lamentations

wards evolution serves to promote the

and bravery that are like treasures un-

image of scientists having to struggle

earthed. It is through these precious

against the overarching religious authority

gems, that we are able to catch a glimpse

on their quest for truth. This romantic

of a shadowed past. As we piece together

image of the sole scientist standing

an image of such lives from these literary

against the tyranny of religious authority

fragments, a new history reveals itself.

is one that is often evoked in the current

Charles Darwin as an icon of power


surrounding evolution. What is

What Darwin managed to do, which in

for certain is that Charles Darwin has be-

turn leant him the title as the father of

come an icon of power for both sides,

evolution, was to articulate the process 48

by which evolution could occur, i.e.

to Darwin’s theory and indeed, Darwin’s

natural selection, and provide empirical

own motivations. Darwin described

evidence in support of his claims through

himself as an agonistic and hesitated in

careful observation and committed

publishing his theory for 20 years for fear

efforts. In doing so, Darwin transformed

of the reaction to it by scientists, atheists

the perception of nature as it went from

and the clergy alike. The fact that Darwin

being passive to being an active principle

was buried as a hero at Westminster

in which the notion of harmony was

Abbey should also be cause for more

replaced with one of struggle.

caution when discussing the Church’s

We are led to believe that there was a

attitudes towards his ideas.

complete rejection of Darwin's theory by


the religious authorities at the time.

Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgewood

Whilst some did take issue with the

were 1st cousins, and were married in

suggestion that humans shared a com-

1839. Emma was 31 when they married,

mon ancestry with the great apes, there

but before she became a Darwin, Emma

were others who tried to reconcile the

had her own history. She had travelled

theory with their religious beliefs,

around Europe, visiting museums, operas

including the Harvard professor, Asa

and balls. She was a skilled pianist, having


been tutored by Chopin, and continued to

Many Atheists, on the other hand, saw

play the piano for Charles into old age.

Darwin’s theory as a triumph and a blow

Emma, along with her family, was actively

to religion. Darwin’s close friends, Joseph

involved in the anti-slavery campaign and

Hooker and Thomas Huxley were active

she would often listen into parliamentary

defenders of evolution. Huxley, known as

debate from the balconies at the House

Darwin’s bulldog, is often quoted as

of Commons. When Emma was 16,

battling against Bishop Wilberforce in the

tragedy struck when her beloved sister

great Oxford debate of 1860, in what is

died, probably to cholera. It was in the

portrayed as the heroic battle of scientific

midst of that tragedy that Emma found

truth against an overpowering Church. It

solace and comfort in faith.

is a powerful image that is often quoted

Emma was a Unitarian, a dissenting sect

in support of the Church’s opposition to

of Christianity that holds that Jesus was a

the theory, but one that ignores the

prophet and therefore not divine, and

underlying complexities of the reactions

denies the trinity and claims to adhere to 49

monotheism. The Unitarians espouse a

that they be open with one another. She

liberal philosophy, emphasizing the im-

accepted Charles’ skepticism and made it

portance of individual reasoning and also

clear that she wished for him to believe

believe that faith and reason are compli-

as she did. Before their wedding, Charles’

mentary, as are religion and science.

father, Robert Darwin, had warned him

Later in life, Emma Darwin attended an

against telling Emma about his religious

Anglican church in Downe, as there was

doubts, but Charles ignored his father’s

no Unitarian church in the locality.

advice and confessed all to Emma. In

Although she attended every Sunday and

response, Emma wrote:

was actively involved in the church’s

‘When I am with you I think all

social projects such as feeding the poor,

melancholy thoughts keep out of my head

Emma was adherent to her Unitarian

but since you are gone some sad ones

principles. Every Sunday, when the Trini-

have forced themselves in, of fear that

tarian Nicene Creed was recited, Emma

our opinions on the most important

made sure that she, along with all her

subject should differ widely. My reason

children would turn around and face the

tells me that honest and conscientious

opposite way. This minor protest occurred

doubts cannot be a sin, but I feel it would

much to the annoyance of the congrega-

be a painful void between us.’

tion and the embarrassment of her

Once married, they would often spend

children, who at a young age, probably

time reading and discussing modern

simply wanted to fit in. Such a courageous

religious writers such as James Martineau

act, however, sheds light onto the depths

or John Newman. Rather than hiding his

of her convictions.

theories from her, Emma became

Mrs & Mr Darwin

Charles’ editor and conscience in many

Emma was not a blind follower and

ways. They often spent hours discussing

instead was a woman who held to her

his theories, as Emma would put forward

faith as one who has reached it through

possible religious arguments and

their own efforts. In the early years of


their marriage, Charles and Emma

Emma and Charles Darwin had ten

discussed religion openly, something

children together, three of whom died in

Emma was insistent upon. Emma feared

childhood. Annie, their second child, died

their differences in belief may cause a rift

at the age of ten, probably to Scarlet

between them and so was determined

fever. Her death had a significant impact 50

on the household and it is believed that

response to his book engulfed him.

Charles turned away from religion upon

Emma found it easier to express her feel-

the death of his daughter who would

ings in a letter she wrote to him.

have been their ‘solace in old age’. Emma

‘When I see your patience, deep compas-

was heavily pregnant with their fifth child

sion for others, self command and above

when Annie became ill, and was unable to

all gratitude for the smallest thing done

travel to Malvern where Charles took her

to help you I cannot help longing that

to consult with a doctor. Charles had to

these precious feelings should be offered

bury Annie alone and Emma was never

to Heaven for the sake of your daily

able to say farewell at her daughter’s

happiness. But I find it difficult enough in


my own case….. It is a feeling and not

They raised their children in a non-

reasoning that drives one to prayer.’

authoritarian way and Emma schooled

Charles was obviously moved by his

them at home in their large house in

wife’s words, writing ‘God bless you’ with

Downe, Kent. The house was often turned

a shaky hand at the bottom of the letter.

into a laboratory or animal breeding

In his autobiography, Charles labels him-

ground, as Charles worked incessantly at

self an agnostic, something that leads us

collecting evidence in support of his

away from the black and white, into the


grey. Perhaps it is in the ambiguity of personal history that the truth of Charles’

For much of their marriage, Charles

faith will remain, as will the secrets of his

suffered from an illness that affected him

marriage to Emma. Whilst certainty and

terribly. It was believed to be linked to

faith was something that divided them,

over-work, although many people

their relationship seems to be one of

theorise that it may have been a virus he

mutual respect, love and compassion.

picked up on his voyage to South America

And a new form of image arises, one far

on HMS Beagle. Whatever the cause may

removed from the starkness of the

have been, Emma showed a considerable

political battles, and we are able to see a

amount of patience and compassion as

more human side to the story, and see

she nursed and comforted him through

that every relationship, whether in the

the years, sometimes holding him

past or present, is presented with chal-

through the night as he convulsed in pain.

lenges and differences and it is how each

In 1863, Charles Darwin was on the verge

party approaches these potential rifts

of nervous collapse as worry over the

that determines their history. 51

If you've been asleep until now, brace yourself, warns Esha Mirari. In two days’ time, the world is going to end. Repeat ... the world is going to end .

culprits but by the unhinged lives who interpret the messages, contents, and subtexts, literally without knowledge of the underlying motives and manipulations of real-life plots and scenarios. The Mayan Prophecy has been exaggerated to such a degree that even NASA has prepared a 'Doomsday Fact-sheet' stating very clearly that

If you've been asleep until now, brace yourself

there is no forthcoming doom for this tragic but

because in two days’ time, the world is going to

glorious world. So unfortunately for those who

end. Repeat: the world is going to end in two

have death and disaster wishes, there is no

days’ time. That is apparently the message

rogue planet heading our way, there are no

those pesky Mayans have left us. According to

sophisticated planetary alignments, no polar

their calculations, on the 21st of December this

shifts or movements of Earth on its axis, there

year, at the exact time of 11.11, during the

will be no sudden solar outburst, and there

festivities of the Winter Solstice and our

certainly will not be any cataclysmic earthly

impending Christmas celebrations, the world

event that will swipe away the human race.

will end.

NASA says: 'the idea of the sudden end of the


world by any cause is absurd. The Earth has

You should regret all of that effort you have put

been here for more than 4 billion years, and it

into buying last minute presents. What a waste

will be several more billion years before the

of time it has been. Instead you could have pre-

gradual brightening of the Sun makes our planet

pared yourselves like sensible people in other

unliveable. Meanwhile there is no known

parts of the world who have been investing

astronomical or geological threat that could

their hard earned money in survival kits, shel-

destroy the Earth.'

ters, candles and tinned foods. Go ahead and

In fact to put it another way, the Mayans

kick yourself if you've worked hard all year for

predicted no such thing either. Like other New

that nice vacation away with the family– it's not

Age theories, the only thing they point toward is

going to happen, and don't even think about it

a cataclysmic event in human consciousness, a

now because it is too late, but if you had been

transformation from one system of thought to-

awake to it, you could have been better

ward another. Now that's not such a bad idea is

organised to mobilise yourself on a sacred

it, especially in these times when the world

mountaintop for Aliens to rescue you. There's

needs a little wake-up? With that thought all of

no point to any of it now, the world is about to

that other nonsense can be put aside. Planetary


alignments, collisions, black holes are myths and

Well, at least that's what the Hollywood movie

legends borne out of imaginative minds to keep

2012 directed by Roland Emmerich, has told us

us entertained. There will be no turbulent event

(we were warned). Of course it's no news to

on earth, not any other than those that have

read that Hollywood monopolises on any idea

already been coming and going for quite some

that has the potential to bring profits via

time now and those are likely to continue for a

scaremongering tactics or that the actual cost of

while longer while we get our acts together on

this sensationalism is never quite paid by the

issues much closer to home. 52

Two years after the Arab Spring, we explore iconic images of protest and consider the roles women take in revolution and war.


Pink Elephant, 2010, size 150×100 × 30 (cm), Silicone, Jesmonite by Ayuko Sigiura (WW Gallery) 54

Needs Must, by Ruth Geldard, Freeze dried shrews, dolls' house beds, fabric, stuffing, pins (2010 ) 55

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and wishing you the very best 2013 56

Collage Magazine Issue 2  
Collage Magazine Issue 2  

Collage Magazine