Isobel Westhead

Deviant, Sinner, Siren

The nature of my practice has evolved in relation to my emotions surrounding the tattooing women, myself included in this. I have represented my vexation surrounding both societies’ stigma of tattooed women, and the opinions of individuals in my personal life. Despite this, my practice has allowed me to release some of this resentment and channel it to create works that are intended to represent and critique this outdated view of marked females.

My final work consists of visually imagining extreme personifications of these negative connotations of tattooed women as characters, similar to those represented on tarot cards. Deviant, Sinner and Siren. They are united by the brands on their head, which relate to a defining feature of each individual. Each character has tattoos that further illustrate elements specific to their unique persona. These personas are drawn onto plywood with chalk and charcoal. The texture permeates the chalk with the natural marking of the wood, contrasting the unnatural marking of the tattooed skin.

These women do not exist to satisfy societies’ perceptions of what constitutes an aesthetically appealing, ‘good’ woman, especially not to please the tastes of men. Laura Mulvey speaks of the ‘male gaze’ in her essay Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema; it is this I aim to subvert within my work, with oversized, stylized women looking down on the viewer. I hold massive resentment for the fact that even in a progressive society men still heavily influence the female narrative and aesthetic.

This is why I feel it is imperative that these women are created to please no one but myself.