International Women's Day 2019

International Women’s Day 2019 - Kim Cormack Arts Project Co-Ordinator

To have my first official project as Rees’ Arts Coordinator be in support of International Women’s Day was a hugely exciting premise; bringing so many of my own interests together in the effort to create awareness…creatively. And so, I set about a frenzy of drafts and ideas of how the exhibition could engage our audience, the Care leaver and Care experienced community. As a care experienced female, myself, I am confident that the collection will do exactly that. Indeed, the more time I spend on this project, the more enthralled, inspired and proud I am of these incredible women.

Role Models and Icons

The first section of the exhibition is a selection of acrylic-on-canvas portraits of celebrity and non-celebrity women who have experienced the care system. The choice to combine the images of both the familiar and non-familiar faces had real significance to the theme of the presentation; namely that all the women portrayed are heroines in their own right. All have overcome colossal obstacles, not only surviving but thriving. Of course, Marilyn Monroe will be instantly recognisable to the majority of our observers, whereas Helena Tonks, Jacqui Adams and Jackie McCartney will not be. Hopefully, by offering an insight into their moving backstories and tremendous achievements, these women will become united and equal in the minds of the spectators, as truly inspiring.

It is an ongoing issue in the Care experienced community that there are no role models in the mainstream media that can inspire and encapsulate the experiences of our new generation of foster children and care leavers, let alone our more mature care experienced people. Most recently, the revamp of Tracey Beaker on the BBC caused upset and at best, seen as a missed opportunity to confront the negative stereotype of the care leaver. So, in response, here is a list of inspiring women, over several fields, who you may not have known had been in the system (there are many more!):

Our True Nature – Art Installation

This piece was incredibly cathartic to make. Using a dress making mannequin, I created a base layer of various headlines and quotes portraying women in a particular way. I have also added some quotes from my own experience as a young woman and specifically as a member of the care experienced community.

Through the layers of negative, limiting and deleterious diatribe and society’s unfair pressure on women ( don’t drink, don’t enjoy sex, don’t expect to be paid at the same rate as a man, do diet, do aspire to a certain aesthetic, only being a mother can make you happy) emerges our true nature (symbolised by hand crafted flowers of all varieties) .

This was a particularly important message for me personally. As a foster child, survival is often more of a predominant thought process than self-discovery. I was lucky that I had a few, very remarkable, women who could see beyond the layers of negativity, to the woman growing beneath. Through listening to myself and caring for my needs, I was able to flourish, to become stable in my own right.

Submissions of other care leavers and care experienced people

Jackie McCartney – Selected Words

Jacqui Adams – Letter to my younger self

Princess Bestman – Why are you touching me?

Anonymous – Here comes the imposter

The exhibition will run from 7th – 31st March @ Rees Café, Redditch. Entry is free.

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