Today I had planned to be on a train to London to meet a friend on Paddington Station where we would (metaphorically in my case) jump in a taxi to go and see an exhibition at the Ben Uri Gallery in the Jewish East End. The exhibition A Transatlantic Dialogue brings together Judi Chicago, Louise Bourgeois, Tracy Emin and Helen Chadwick. Sadly, for both of us, our triste on a station platform has been derailed by life. A classic case of dynamic women over estimating our ability to multi task assuming that simply because time is available it should be filled!
Entre nous as the sound track to this ‘literary’ creation is the slush of car tyres on wet tarmac millimetres in good old Welsh rain I am secretly relieved not to be observing life through a train window. Albeit a self-indulgent First Class window! Yesterday I watched the gallery tour of Judi Chicago takes the ‘audience’ on an evocative journey of her work. Ms Chicago is accompanied by interviewer Louisa Buck and curator Rachel Dickson and the film is a great insight into the exhibition. In fact it’s an amusing watch in terms of the interplay between the three women! Ms Chicago is periodically both impressed and seemingly bemused by Ms Buck’s observations. Poor Ms Dickson is both literally and metaphorically in the background – Ms Buck reminds me of Jennifer Saunders in her Ab Fab Fashion Guru character! Here is the link which, rather like a Victorious Endeavours post i.e. requires a strong coffee and a degree of commitment! OK blog posts are ‘supposed’ to be more of a cocktail party nibble than a 3 course (sophisticated) supper – but the Spinster is all about challenging norms so ‘supposed’ is more for those in the shadows than those who have no choice than to be anything other than centre stage! Enjoy http://www.benuri.org.uk/public/?event-details
If you are most familiar with Judi Chicago’s The Dinner Party will find out that her work spans a rather wider approach including performance in the desert and a curious foray into feline erotica. Brace yourself for a series of pieces best described as pussy meets pussy; Ms Chicago was taken on one side after the show including this body of work by a female audience member who asked (with no sense of irony) ‘how do you find a cat like that?’ (I paraphrase from recollection and she may have asked ‘how do you get a cat to do that’?). All the Spinster could think was how rough the tongue of my darling kitty was when she licked my eyes as she ‘encouraged’ me to wake up on a lazy Sunday morning!
This week includes the 14th February, for some this may signify Valentine’s Day an occasion for juvenile anticipation as the strongest person wonders momentarily whether the post office might be delivering a little anonymous something. But this year Eve Ensler, of the Vagina Monologues, encourages us all to support the ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign to dance to raise awareness of the number of women worldwide who have been subjected to violence. See http://onebillionrising.org/ for more information as this link to the Guardian gives more context to the event: Eve Ensler: dancing for a free world for women –http://feeds.guardian.co.uk/~r/theguardian/uk/rss/~3/B-5reb0kV50/profile-eve-ensler-feminism-one-billion
My colleague from Women in Pregnancy and I both had the same idea – we have to do something as part of One Billion Rising. She’s a Choreographer and heavens ladies I do have (teenage) awards in Ballroom Dancing! No I’m not lying I found this little shield on which my Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards for Waltz and Quickstep hang as a galling reminder that once I could twirl (intentionally) without losing my balance! And equally as amusing is the idea that I might have a plus one to hang on to – Daddy darling the ballroom dancing never found me a husband; a parental investment the Spinster shamelessly squandered in the pursuit of the perfect silver dancing shoe that was, at the time, my primary motivation! Being this statuesque (or Amazonian) height since the age of 11 the Otter School of Dancing taught me the man’s part, for their convenience, so I was literally on the back foot from the outset!
So Women in Pregnancy, with the support of Chapter arts centre, will be doing a flashmob style dance intervention as part of One Billion Rising sometime around lunchtime! Brace yourself and come along to witness a combination of elegant choreography from Women in Pregnancy with a disability dad dancing with a twist (this will be the Spinster’s contribution)! After some thought I had to accept that me ‘performing’ from a seated position by placing a chair on a cafe table was probably ill advised; bloody health and safety!
If you fancy joining us or creating your own event there is loads of information on the One Billion Rising website; the toolkit is a tad overwhelming so take my advice and use it as an inspiration rather than a finger wagging rule book! For me the opportunity to make everyone stop and think about the underpinning issue of violence against women is far more important. Every week the news has stories of women subjected to violence; seldom on the front page (or if they are they seldom stay there for long). The impact of the horrific attack in Delhi has been worldwide but what is needed is a change in the attitude towards women.
This last week I have been personally outraged by the suicide of the woman after giving evidence in the trial against her perpetrator when she was a student at a music school some years ago. Her testimony was heartbreaking as it reminded society that the impact of sexual violence is life changing and lifelong. The way rape and sexual violence is treated by the Police has changed significantly over the last few decades; working as a rape crisis counsellor I saw this first hand. But surely there is more that could be done to support women, and men, brave enough to stand in court and be cross examined? The assumption that the support could change an individual’s memory of what happened to them is, to me, offensive. I can only hope that the suicide of Frances Andrade triggers a review of the legal system in the UK http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/violinist-found-dead-after-testifying-against-her-abuser-8487408.html .
For me the fact we shared a name, Frances, the root of which means ‘free’ (OK free man from France) makes her death resonate; somehow makes it personal. We all have a right to be free and on the 14 February 2013 I will ‘dance’ in memory of Frances Andrade – a she was a highly acclaimed professional violinist I do hope she wouldn’t be offended by my ‘amateur disabled dad dancing’!