By Louisa Michel
Twenty six men and women from around the world have come together to create ’13 Women – A Living Collection of Art’. The striking exhibition opened at the beginning of March at Brighton’s Jubilee Library, to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8thth.
13 Women started as a simple idea, enabling female artists from all walks of life and backgrounds to unite under one banner. But, with a footfall of over 42,000 curious visitors last year, the debut show was such a success it has now become an annual event, and this time includes male artists (since somany asked how they could get involved).
Supported by I LOVE ART UK who specialise in staging and curating unique and engaging exhibitions, 13 Women has become a platform for ground breaking art and brave personal statement in a very public environment.
One visitor described last year’s show as, “a real female explosion of power, grace and vibrancy”. With this year’s theme of Transition, we can expect to see similarly powerful biographical work explored through a variety of materials: from latex and tapestry, to traditional painting to book art.
I spoke to Marga Beuth about her evocative contribution “The Vulva Landscape” which hangs in the library window. Crafted from an original collagraph, pieces of wallpaper and lino print, Vulva Landscapes is a semi-abstract depiction which Marga describes as, “almond shape surrounded by soft organic labia-like leaves.”
So far she says, the reaction has been positive. Her pioneering work is not just an exploration of sexuality – “it’s much larger than that” she tells me, “ I am presenting a female equivalent of the phallic symbol.”
Of course, the act of making symbols has been around for as long as humanity. “What is surprising to me” Marga continues “is how difficult people find the notion of a ‘vulvic symbol’. Why do we not have a single cipher or visual shorthand for ‘the essences of woman-ness’ in our culture?” An evocative question, which I’m sure will spark much discussion.
Mark Golding’s contribution is titled, “Transition from the Ordinary to the Extraordinary”. His is an art form that is totally new; “I render the invisible visible through a labyrinth-like 7 step journey.”
He gives me a taster. As I listen to his poetic words and become absorbed in the swirling patterns of his sacred geometry mandala, I find I’ve suddenly, unknowingly become a part of his exhibit. This must be what they call the ‘living art’ experience! It feels as though Mark is guiding me on a creative tour inside my mind. I notice a curious sense of the magical arise, like something very familiar and yet unexplainable is happening “… and we will find ourselves outside the box” he concludes after a couple of minutes, and I am left with a vague and mysterious feeling I both know and don’t know what he’s alluding to.
13 Women also has a virtual gallery
Marga Beuth f: Marga Beuth @13 WOMEN