Saturday, 7 January 2012

Wonder worker

I have no issues with wearing my love of other female artists on my sleeve (or allowing them to influence my work). Hello Swoon. Hello Nikki McClure. This is my effort to send a big old loving hello to Margaret Kilgallen.

I have this book of Margaret Kilgallen's work that I pour over on a regular basis and every time I look at it, I manage to find something new to fascinate me.  She created entire worlds through beautiful typography, (mainly) female figures and evocative color schemes. She visually expressed her appreciation for old fashioned sign writing and all things handmade.

But it was her emphasis on using street art for good, as a way to communicate and share with a much wider community than just the graffiti scene or even the art world that is most meaningful to me.  

She became pregnant after being diagnosed with breast cancer and was forced to choose between her own survival and her baby's. She died in 2001 at only 33, three weeks after giving birth to her daughter. She was featured in the film Beautiful Losers and this segment sums up the lasting influence she had on fellow artists. 

A major part of being a street artist is obviously about reclaiming public space, however temporary a change that might end up being. For me (and I'm guessing for the other female streets artists who inspire me) it's also about deciding what kind of women should be put out there to represent the rest of us, creating something that rivals advertising and celebrity.
One of the characteristics of a saint in various religions is someone who is a source of benevolent power, or a wonder worker. I thought, why not aim higher than just challenging the media representation of women and start a whole new canon? So I have canonized Margaret Kilgallen in a typeface of which I think she would approve. As a surfer, I think she would like the place I chose to do it too.  

Pasted up on the viewing platform over Porthmeor beach (in front of the Tate) in St Ives, Cornwall.

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