Lockdown projects: Normalising nudity with art


By Emma Bayley-Melendez, Third Year Politics

The Croft Magazine // Lockdown has provided many of us with more time for personal projects, and Emma Bayley-Melendez has used this opportunity to create art with a purpose - body positivity and empowerment.

Lockdown has been a confusing time in many ways and as someone that studies a degree that requires a lot of reading, art has been a way to explore my creative side. I am by no means an artist, and despite putting ‘novice painter’ on my Instagram account I am even less experienced than that. The peak of my art career came in primary school when I was asked to do a painting for our retiring headmaster.

However, in these naturally overwhelming times, painting has really helped my mental health by turning to a new hobby - I think lots of people are picking up new hobbies or returning to neglected ones. For me this has been a great time to experiment more with new mediums and for the past few weeks I have been working with watercolours that I purchased online from CASS Art.

Having only been to one life drawing session with the art society, I don’t quite know where the idea began to draw or paint nudes. I drew a lot of inspiration from that session, especially the confidence that came from the model and how comfortable he was within himself. Painting a friend earlier in lockdown was an empowering experience and it’s nice to interpret someone through your own eyes. We generally have a tendency to stigmatise and overly sexualise nudes to the point that they can become a taboo subject.

It’s important to reframe people’s mindsets and attitudes about nudes. Even though under lockdown snapchat can become a breeding ground for sexually frustrated conversations, nude images don't have to be seen as something sleazy. Most of the nudes I paint come either from friends, myself, or from guys that I happen to be talking to. I jokingly added my work to Tinder with “painting my way through lockdown” in my bio, and I have been a little overwhelmed with how many people have been asking to be painted.

This isn’t about making bodies overly sexualised, it’s about body positivity and empowerment through art. Consent is massively important and I make sure that anyone who has asked to be painted is closely included in the process from me sketching the photo to painting and, so far, feedback has been very positive.

Art has become a relaxing pastime but also a hobby I would like to continue post-lockdown, especially if I can use it to empower people and change the way we see our bodies. I only have a few posts up on Instagram and having only just started I am keen to see what else I can paint.

Lockdown has been a confusing time but by painting it has helped me re-evaluate a lot of things, especially seeing the beauty in people.

Instagram: @nude_my_prblm_

Featured: Instagram / @nude_my_prblm

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