Monday, 25 March 2013

Back to Acceptable Flesh or "It's not just pretty lines and colours!"

In my last post I spoke a bit about the themes which drive my work. I realise these have been less explicit of late than when I started out with my blog.

I think it is about time that I revisited them, not least for my own benefit. Over the last couple of years these themes have been no less important to me, but have influenced as a gently embracing undercurrent rather than as a forceful driving energy.

I recognise I lose sight of the bigger picture so often and need to take time to re-evaluate and remember.

When I started writing this blog I was motivated by a passion to communicate the meaning behind my abstract work. "Acceptable Flesh" as a concept was the focus I needed to make a body of work which I planned to exhibit as an immersive experience and as such, an entity in itself. In reality, every piece I make mines the same seam of inspiration.

"Acceptable Flesh" is primarily about my struggle to deal with my socially unacceptable body. I have neither been sublimely delicate and waiflike, nor seen myself as lusciously buxom and desirable. I am, and always have been fat, from babyhood to the post-menopausal present day.

It is really important though that this statement is not seen as an invitation to overweight, middle-aged women to unite and wallow in the injustices of unfair and unkind treatment by society.

Rather what I want is for all of us, irrespective of gender, age, race or size, to question a society that favours the pursuit of artificial, flawless youthfulness, when it is an insidious illusion, which damages, devalues and disables.

In the context of the power and drive of the capitalist market to sell us a vacuous myth, the Feminist declaration of "the personal is political" is no less relevant today.

Feeling "less than" and being regarded as unacceptable is just not good enough.

And these feelings are big and they are overwhelming. Abstraction offers me the means of expressing them in a much more immediate and intuitive way.

Perhaps that notion is itself worthy of a future blog post.

But let me say here - with some force - "it's not just some pretty lines and colours!"

"Parts" by Maggie Ayres


Julie Shackson said...

'Rather what I want is for all of us, irrespective of gender, age, race or size, to question a society that favours the pursuit of artificial, flawless youthfulness, when it is an insidious illusion, which damages, devalues and disables.' Well said Maggie. Fat is still a feminist issue and the pain is still prevalent. I think the intellect in your work raises it way above the pretty lines and colours!

Theanne said...

from childbirth onward my body has been varying degrees of Rubenesque...the only reason this currently concerns me, at my age, is it would greatly enhance my quality of life, if I weighed less. it would also be interesting to know how much society (the people around me, particularly females) influenced my feelings about my self image.

your feelings are well said; well written

Threadpainter said...

Hi Maggie,
I, personally, never give someone else's size a second thought ... but I have always worried that they judge me.
Last year, knowing I was going to turn 65 (for goodness sake's) , I gave my self permission to stop worrying what other's thought of my 2Xness.
Guess what happened ?
I started sliming down, ever so slowly, and have lost 15 pounds since last Febuary ... 12 of which I had no idea until friends started saying 'you're looking great' !
I did however start walking in my pool last summer... not to lose weight, but to try to strengthen this aging, arthritic body. As a result of less worrying I found I wasn't needing the food either !
I'll be 65 yrs. old tomorrow and I'm somewhere between a 1X and an X .... who knew that all that stress was helping me keep the weight ?
Loved your talk and sure didn't mean to write a tome !

savannah said...

YES! thank you for such a well written piece. xoxoxo

Mimi and Tilly said...

I can relate to what you are saying so much. In recent years my body shape has changed since I've not been able to exercise due to illness. The changes brought a loss of sense of self & a huge loss in confidence. I am getting to know & appreciate this "new" physical me but the journey to acceptance can be hard & painful as my new shape is not the shape I see on tv, in media images and is not catered for in the clothes shops I used to love. I am two stones heavier than I used to be but seem to have crossed over a line set in the sand sizewise that sees me being categorised in a very different way & I am shocked & feel so sad about this. Em

Maggie Ayres said...

I am so grateful to you all for taking the time and the thought to comment here. This is such an emotive issue for all of us and sometimes not easily or lightly spoken about. I value the opportunity and the privilege to create a dialogue here with you.
I suppose what we all need is to feel valued and appreciated for who we are and how we interact and engage in the world. The idea that we are judged instead by such an inconsequential physical agenda seems nonsensical and to the detriment of our society. X