"A (pink nailed) finger up at the patriarchy" - Honey Art Show

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By Gabi Spiro, Deputy Arts Editor

Arts' Deputy Editor reviews this 'defiant display of sexuality, femininity and conflict'.

Any exhibition with a piece reading ‘I hope you choke on the food I made you’ in sparkly fuchsia is a winner in my eyes. Honey Art Show have absolutely smashed it – platforming the voices of local female artists in a defiant display of sexuality, femininity and conflict – with a (pink nailed) finger up at the patriarchy.

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Epigram / Gabi Spiro.

Honey have hijacked the Counterspace Gallery, tucked away down an alley off Corn Street, and made it their own, for their largest exhibition yet. There’s a palpable buzz on the opening night; female-led hip hop sweeps through the warehouse space, people drink wine-in-plastics, and there’s a refreshing mixture of young men and women milling about. It all feels very DIY, very punk, and very Bristol.

The exhibition displays the work of 35 women, with huge variation in terms of medium and style. There is, quite literally, something for everyone, with photography, textile work, digital drawing, illustration, fine art, sculpture, live screen printing and more. Some pieces are overtly feminist, others explore the experience of being female in more subtle ways, and the breadth and variety of the work feels like a comfortable and thoughtful curatory decision. Women make art about women, and women make art about other things too, and both of these are valid.

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Epigram / Gabi Spiro.

A standout artist for me was print maker Beth Kirby. A collection of her prints on rag paper are displayed together, entitled ‘Porn Ad’. We see sexualised, nude female bodies in bright primaries, almost comic-book like. They are atomised to their tits and vaginas, so no shock there. But Kirby gives the porn star agency, relocating and subverting porn slogans - ‘Horny sluts – who wanna be alone’ – and giving them the choice. It’s angry, it’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s deliberately provocative – it’s exactly how I envision feminist art.

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Epigram / Gabi Spiro.

Though some works are not particularly nuanced, major parts of womanhood are left unexplored, and most pieces don’t provide anything new to the feminist conversation, I don’t think Honey Art Show particularly cares. Perhaps I am expecting more of women than of men, as I’ve been conditioned to. Perhaps the show is more about female exasperation than it is about specific messages. Either way, Honey projects the female voice and female work in a male dominated field in an admirable and empowering way. I loved the exhibition, but that feels besides the point. Honey seems to say: ‘Love it or hate it, we don’t give a fuck. We’re here to stay.’

(Featured image credits: Epigram / Gabi Spiro)


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