As part of our course we have visiting artists who come and chat with us and talk about their work – I have found each and every one an inspiration. Last week it was Mandy Webb, a Portsmouth based artist who makes intensely personal and shocking pieces broadly around women’s issues and social issues, particularly dealing with and educating people about her HIV status.
Mandy graduated from Portsmouth a few years ago and it was interesting to hear about the progress she has made in that time. Her work is so deeply personal and raw and in that there is also great beauty. Like many artists her work also contains a great sense of humour.
The works ‘Fucking Kettle’ and ‘Too many pricks for my liking!’ deal with the wholly inadequate response by Social Services to her serious illness. There is nothing subtle about Mandy’s brand of subversion! The works make you gasp and laugh and then make you see the point she is making. They leave you feeling a deeper understanding of the issues she addresses.
The dresses are incredible feats of imagination – the most famous is the “Red Ribbon Dress” which has been exhibited widely in order to bring awareness to HIV in this country. 6000 red ribbons commemorate the people who have died and the people who are surviving and coping.
Mandy will make art out of just about anything, condoms, bed pans and sanitary towels – she has no qualms! Nothing is what it seems. She showed me that art takes commitment, passion and flair – and that whilst it can be about deadly serious subjects, it can be handled with sparkle and humour too.
Mandy is opening her latest exhibition in Bristol from 05/03/2016 to 02/04/2016 called Addressing the Situation at Grant Bradley Gallery.
All images © Mandy Webb
My work is going well, I keep feeling anxious about everything I have to achieve but actually it is ticking along. I finished my series of photographs on the Gosport Ferry this week, I have 72 small pictures of people occupying themselves on the journey across Portsmouth Harbour. My aim now is to be mindful on the trip myself. I tried this for the first time on Friday, on both crossings and it was such a relief to sit and be still for 5 minutes. I felt really refreshed. Since this is the raison d’etre of my research, it’s a good job too!
Did a portrait anatomy class this week – wow, unexpectedly hard work but great fun. Only half finished but fascinating to learn how the muscles on the face build up our features.
The featured image is part of an occasional series on negative and parental road signs.