SEEHAM RAHMAN examines femininity and sexual politics in Polly Nor’s satirical illustrations. Sensuality, identity, and femininity are not new phenomena in illustration and storytelling. However, the modern woman of the 21st century represents an evolution of womanhood on an individual and societal basis. Art and design are not only articulating this social change but also actively engaging with it in pursuit of strengthening the perception of femininity. As a woman of colour, I often find it difficult to find myself represented in Western Art in a three-dimensional way. Polly Nor’s art speaks to the faults of my identity, bringing forth the wholeness of who I am. Even my demons are depicted as they really are, next to sensuous depictions of womanhood. My femininity is encapsulated; my fears revealed. The artist urges women to understand the toxicity of the internet-age through pieces such as In Your Dreams. Nor encapsulates the anxieties and responsibilities…Continue Reading

Polly Nor and The Nasty Woman

FATIMA JAFAR reviews the poetry of Sandra Brown Springer and Remi-Lyn Brown, performed in an event celebrating black queer womanhood. DISRUPTION, an event marking the end of this year’s Black History Month, was held on campus last week. UCL library assistant and poet Sandra Brown Springer, and her daughter Remi-Lyn Brown read their poetry to an audience made up of UCL students, staff, and their close family and friends. Brown is a self-published poet, and part of the creative collective SXWKS, while Springer is doing her Masters degree in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, and is currently working on a short story and poetry anthology. This was the first time they had performed their poetry together, but, as they said, it will definitely not be the last. Their poetry focuses on the navigating of space and identity in today’s society as black women, and coming to terms with their queerness. Both…Continue Reading

DISRUPTION

A poem by SIMRAN DIVATIA. The nurse, in worried tones whispers to my mother “but your daughter is so dark, what will people say?” I had not been alive for a single day before I was nothing more than the shade of my skin, and as I grew up, and it grew light, something still didn’t sit right, that people praised the change, as though fair was seen as the greatest thing a girl could be. Featured image from Brick Lane, directed by Sarah Gavron, 2007

Fair and Lovely

FINN BURGE looks at the London Shakespeare Workout’s Prison Project and what it teaches us about the unitary power of theatre The London Shakespeare Workout (LSW) has run its Prison Project, taking professional actors and drama students into prisons to collaborate with the inmates, not just up and down the UK but all over the world, for over 20 years. Led by Dr Bruce Wall, Shakespearean extraordinaire and co-founder of the LSW charity, the workouts involve a mixture of drama games, vocal exercises and exploration of Shakespeare’s language, with the founding motto ‘to promote confidence through the Will to Dream for ALL’. Under these auspices, along with ten other students from UCL, I was lucky enough to be invited by Bruce to take part in a session inside HMP Pentonville in Islington. As we were led further and further inside, deep within the building, it felt physically heavy around and…Continue Reading

‘Make not your thoughts your prisons’

THOMAS NGUYEN discusses the merging of masculinity and femininity in fashion.  ‘Fashion reflects the time we live in’ declared Coco Chanel. A powerful tool of representation and identity formation, fashion makes apparent the way we think and feel about our bodies. As such, it has often tended to blur and subvert the rigorous models of masculinity and femininity offered by conventional standards that govern our daily life. Only in recent years, however, can we witness a real erosion of those gender confines in an industry that is veering towards a more inclusive approach. Throughout history, clothing choices have allowed people to move between and redefine the binary gender ideals, however, the real conquering of this duality seems to be taking place in fashion only relatively recently. Historically, menswear has experienced constant revision because of continuously shifting societal standards of ‘Masculinity’. In the 18th century for instance, it was perfectly ‘manly’ to wear…Continue Reading

Androgynous Fashion: Shifting Trends

ISABEL WEBB speaks to Raniyah Qureshi, the founder of AWOMENfest, a three day feminist art festival that launches this month. Picture the scene: nestled in a DIY arts venue in Peckham, a group of rugby lads sit around a table to discuss the relationship between tears and feminism with The Colour of Madness Project. In the next room, more of these men – stereotypically masculine and disengaged – compare notes on the artwork of Damaris Athene and Fee Greening, whilst others, perched in the zine corner, soak up the atmosphere and contemplate the body positive life drawing session they just attended. This is AWOMENfest founder Raniyah Qureshi’s ideal for the new feminist festival. “The people you want to come the most are not the ones who are already engaged. In my dreamworld, the room would be full of rugby lads who don’t give a shit.” This might seem like a…Continue Reading

AWOMENfest: Radically Soft

IMOGEN GODDARD explores the complexities of translating from book to film, and the ways in which these media can work in tandem. Books are always better than their screen adaptations, right? This is what the literary world tells us, but perhaps the answer to that questions should be: well, maybe. The effectiveness of this intersection has always been an interesting topic of discussion, but has become more and more relevant in recent years with the increasing prominence of films and television in our culture.  There are some terrible films created from brilliant books, but is this immediate (and in all honesty, slightly snobbish) reaction always valid?  Let’s properly examine whether too much of a book is lost in its screen version, in which case we can toss it aside without a second glance, or if successful adaptations really can be created.  Of course, there is a degree of subjectivity in this…Continue Reading

Page to Screen

SHALAKA BAPAT discusses what ‘Home’ means to the speakers at the TEDxUCLWomen event. Throughout history, women have been confined to domestic, private spaces. ‘A woman’s place is at home,’ ‘a woman’s place is in the kitchen’ and ‘go make me a sandwich’ are all phrases that I daresay many women have heard (from men – who else?). However this year’s TEDxUCLWomen event saw the theme of ‘home’ alternatively as a space of agency, of action and of comfort. Last year’s theme was ‘Intersect’, and the event very much continued in this vein. Unlike many platforms for ideas and culture, TEDxUCLWomen has diversity at the very core of its being. This was visible in so many aspects: from the team of incredible women who organised the event, the physical accessibility of the space, the subsidised tickets for community groups, and the vegetarian food that was served. It is the small but crucial…Continue Reading

What else but home?

ALEK ROSE explores how politics and fashion have been linked in Russia since the revolution.  After being associated with social and criminal deviancy for the majority of its existence, the tracksuit has recently become a staple of international fashion weeks. Routinely hitting the catwalk for Gosha Rubchinskiy, the tracksuit is equally a regular feature of Supreme and Palace collections. This resurgence suggests that there has always been an underlying and enduring artistic value to the tracksuit. In an attempt to (maybe unnecessarily) intellectualise the tracksuit, I look to Russia – arguably the country most heavily associated with the the birth of the tracksuit – and also with Constructivism. Constructivism is an artistic movement that originated in Russia in the early 20th century. The movement was dedicated to bringing art, which had previously been considered something only for the elite classes of society, to the ordinary people of the modern world. It evolved into…Continue Reading

Constructivism and the Tracksuit

CAROLINA ABBOTT GALVÃO discusses the effect of gentrification on London’s Latin American community in light of recent events in Elephant and Castle.  Moving between different areas of London can often feel like traversing through different cities. Locations often have unique lives, cultures, and symbols of their own. As I exited the tube station at Elephant and Castle, a place I had only seen before at night, the first structure that caught my eye was a boxy modernist building. A sombre-looking giant, the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre stands proudly despite its unconventional exterior. Its bright blue details protrude boldly against the concrete around it. Looking at the centre from a distance, it’s easy to see it as what many people have accepted it to be: an architectural blunder scheduled for demolition. However, a closer look at the landmark and its immediate surroundings tells another, more layered story. As I enter…Continue Reading

The Latin American Castle

ISY MOISY discusses whether women have a unique role to play in the battle against climate change. Is it plausible to claim that women have a more insightful understanding of environmental damage and are therefore more uniquely positioned to fight its effects? To see the effect environmental damage has, we can look to Ecofeminism, a theory that grew during the 1980s among women from the anti-nuclear, environmental, and lesbian-feminist movements. It is clear that environmentalism and feminism are both conspicuous, contemporary issues that cannot be understated, and that gender discussion should be integrated into discussions about environmental reparation. Ecofeminism sees a critical connection between the two, as both having been caused by a result of patriarchy – and wants to say more than just that women are more affected by environmental damage.  The Chipko movement in India accomplished a victory in 1980 when Indira Ghandi, the leader at the time, issued a…Continue Reading

Rethinking Ecofeminism

TOMMY WALTERS introduces ‘Back In House’, a workers’ campaign to end outsourcing and zero-hours contracts at the University of London. It seems almost too fitting that Senate House, the building that inspired George Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, is today living up to its connotations of exploitation and hypocrisy. In Orwell’s 1984, the slogan ‘FREEDOM IS SLAVERY’ is ironically plastered across the walls of the ‘enormous pyramidical structures of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air.’ In our parallel universe, workers at the University of London are given the supposed freedom of flexible contracts when outsourced to private contractors, but are in turn underpaid, overworked and deprived of their basic working rights. On Tuesday 21st November, to coincide with the University of London’s Foundation Day dinner attended by Princess Anne at Senate House, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) staged a strike and a simultaneous public protest demanding an end to…Continue Reading

Bring them Back in House