Thursday, 2 March 2017

Leah Thorn - Older Women Rock

I didn’t get it at first when Ebun said she was going to be part of Leah Thorn’s Older Women Rock (OWR). Thoughts of aging rock chicks  in leathers recalling and lamenting former glory days came to mind .

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Older Women Rock is for me a brilliant example of the sublation of art in the praxis of life  - the reintegration of art into the very way we live our lives*. A brilliant, thought provoking, bloke challenging multi-sensory,  including taste,  multimedia concept, event and idea.

It would be trite to call OWR multi media as yes, it does mix different media: Leah’s poetry with art, fashion, music, curation, photography. But it goes much further, it brings art into life as OWR creates its own vocabulary to reveal, display and explain the lot of the older woman in society today, making making and revealing connections.

Allie Lee vajazzled
OWR makes manifest the older woman not just as the trope of mother, wife, grandmother, carer  or that old lady living alone but, in roles unfamiliar to too many of us:

As a prisoner – one of the fastest growing demographics in prison today is women over 55 (1)

As a mental health sufferer - 28% of women aged 65 years and over suffer form depression (2)

As living in poverty – 14 per cent of women pensioners live in relative poverty, defined as having incomes below 60 per cent median income after housing costs (3)

OWR brings these issues to light through Leah's fun creative, innovative poems expressed by artists in the novel media of clothes and fashions.

I loved the whole OWR concept.

Leah turns her poetry in to art and fashion,  her words inspire artists to create works based on clothing  to which they applique, embroider words and images in response to Leah’s poetry.  OWR works are then central to a series of  panel discussions, fashion shows, cabaret evenings  with, and about, older women.

Claire Angel screen 
I found several of the poems and their subsequent artefacts very challenging  (for me, a bloke!) specifically the poem button, with its opening lines Vulva lost its youthful lustre and vajazzled's I’ll never have a designer vulva the resultant works leave little to the imagination.

While other works make profound comments, encouraging one to think and reflect on other aspects of the older women's life and times, for example on the presence or rather absence of older women on TV and movie screens  with the poem screen's opening line embroidered into the back of  a cream leather jacket: only men grow old on the screen. Throughout OWR there is resistance, subversion  and rejection of the cliched image of 'the older women'.

Leah Thorn
I found Leah's OWR experience – the poems, the fashion, the art -  engaging, entertaining and thought provoking and not just the artworks works were tasty so was the rock.


* For other examples see my post: Gormley’s Bollards - Great Art or Gormless Artefacts
1 British Society of Criminology
2  Fundamental Facts About Mental Health 2015
3 Age UK Evidence Review: Poverty in Later Life

1 comment:

  1. Leah spoke about OWR on BBC World Service