From Ally Goff and Stefania Distante, Friday 11th to Sunday 27th August on the Creative Canvas
“You write in order to change the world knowing perfectly well you probably can’t but also knowing that…. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it”. (James Arthur Baldwin in Denzin, N.K. (2014) Interpretive Autoethnography, Los Angeles, California, Sage Publications.)
Based on my own experience of “the change” this selection of photographs documents this story, told through memories and the re-enactment of symptoms, emotional experiences and traumas encountered throughout my menopausal journey. The aim of this work was for me to come to terms with this pivotal stage in my own life, embracing the feminine, making the invisible visible, whilst inspiring others and speaking out about the life-changing effects these hormonal fluctuations can have upon women’s lives.
I chose to work with textiles as there are many multi-layered associations between women and fabrics.
I use discarded and waste fabrics in conjunction with inherited family textiles. This combination allows me to portray the concepts of layering, masking, and disguising, within the work, creating subtle and often ambiguous outcomes, revealing further complexities and nuances around personal, cultural, and social history, and the changes associated with domestic fabrics, womens place within the home and the role of women within modern society.
Photographing the work records the fabrics performing independently, both on and off the body, using myself as an intermediary, whilst signposting others to what menopause can be like and its deleterious effects. This has resulted in some unpredictable outcomes, mirroring the unseen and often misdiagnosed symptoms of menopause.
There is “No one size fits all”, each woman will encounter her menopause differently for this reason I have created garments in a variety of sizes and materials, and designed individual marbled fabric squares, made using the same basic processes, this repetition mimics the universal phenomenon of menopause, whilst demonstrating each unique outcome. The unfinished, incomplete, messy pieces are conscious choices to highlight the unvalued sense of lesser worth often experienced by mature women. My work has been designed to document a lived experience, enabling me to establish my identity, position, and self-worth, as well as recognising and overcoming the challenges and inequalities, stereotypes, and deep-seated beliefs associated with women around the change of life.
I hope the work will reveal a clearer understanding of the female transition, which once navigated through, offers opportunities for the next chapter of life.
These images have been devised as a tool to start conversations around menopause, allowing access to more information and, through art hopefully contributing in some way to the normalisation and wider acceptance and understanding of menopause.
The artists are hosting an afternoon get-together on 18th August from 14:30 for women to share their stories and support. Details here.
Friday 11th to Sunday 27th August
Hundred Heroines Museum (Creative Canvas), 1st Floor, The Eastgate Shopping Centre, 22 Eastgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 1PA (at the top of the escalator)