July 10th is Disability Awareness Day on 10th July and we are celebrating “otherness at Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium, with two amazing art exhibitions:
Bodies of Difference
Bodies of Difference by Ashley Savage is an extraordiary exhibition which simultaneously challenges and heart-warms with striking photographic images disability, ‘otherness’ and sexuality.
In a world that works to de-sexify all but the idealised notions of “sexiness”, this exhibition is an important and overdue regognition that open sexuality is the right of everyone in our society.
“I have always been drawn towards beauty that is strange or unique, that which falls far outside of the narrow parameters of normative beauty. Within my photographic practice, ‘normality’, is of interest merely as a means to measure degrees of difference in a culture that continues, on many levels, to regard that which is extreme, as deviant. My work vascilates between the genres of Art and Documentary, exploring issues relating to gender, sexuality, disability, body modification and contemporary fetishism” Ashley
‘I’m a performance artist, originally from Venice Beach, California, who relocated to London many years ago, though I now reside for most of the year with my girlfriend on a farm in the mountains of Spain. I first met Ashley, the photographer in 2004, when I was performing at the legendary Madame Jojo’s nightclub, deep in the heart of Soho. We quickly became friends and have worked together on numerous occasions. I love the fact that Ashley’s work encompasses diversity and veers away from representations of conventional beauty.
Being large is often seen as akin to being disabled in our society where perfection is increasingly a mandatory requirement for acceptance. Though I am never totally comfortable with my body, I enjoy exploring the shapes generated when I pose naked and am always keen to engage those possibilities. When I perform all of the gay boys love me, whilst straight men call me a ‘fat cow’ at the same time as trying to stifle their erections.’
“My condition is known as Diastrophic Dysplasia, a type of dwarfism that is particularly common in Finland, the country of my birth. During my childhood and adolescence, I used to be extremely embarrassed about my body, but through many painful experiences I came to realize that there is just no such thing as a ‘perfect’ body. Nowadays I do not think of myself as being different, any more so than everyone is different from someone else. Through my artistic practice as a performer and model, I strive to show that feeling sexy and confident does not necessarily require fitting into predetermined stereotypes of normative beauty.
I have modelled for Ashley many times in the past and trust him implicitly, so have no objections to being photographed naked. Even in everyday life, I cannot hide away my imperfections behind clothes and make-up, so in a sense, I am always naked whether I wear clothes or not.”
Erotic Awards Exhibition
The Erotic Awards, organised by Outsiders, a national charity which helps disabled people gain confidence and find partners, are pansexual and encourage disabled artists. Adorning the walls at Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium for the whole month of July is an sensational & spellbinding exhibition showcasing the finalists & winners from the art & photography sections
- Xue Wang (China) (Winner)
Born in northern China, Xue Wang came to London, aged 22, to complete an MA in fashion at the University Of Westminster. But, as she says, “the self-reflective intimacy of art, which has always been latent in me, forced my transition from fashion to painting.” Combining the iconography of childhood with the cultural heritage of Victoriana, vintage fashion, classic films and pin-ups, she places cartoon-like girls in risqué settings to create pop surrealist images possessing both eroticism and a hint of menace.
- Gutterorchid (UK) (Finalist)
Bringing his dreams – and nightmares – into virtual reality, by using the same CGI seen in Avatar, Gutterorchid both shocks and delights as he strives to portray the beauty found in less obvious subjects: “especially the people pushed to the shadows, the ignored… Most of us have two legs but some of us have none. Most men have a pair of balls, though some have a bigger set than others.”
- Jamie McCartney (UK) (Finalist)
Experimental sculptor who is renown for Great Wall of Vagina: a monumental display of vuval plaster casts of 400 women, ranging in age from 18 – 76. This epic work took five years to complete “Many women have anxiety about their genital appearance. It appalled me that our society has created yet one more way to make women feel bad about themselves. I decided that I was uniquely placed to do something about it.”
- Gregory Brown (UK) Winner
Gregory graduated in graphic design and worked for many years in commercial media but now specialises in photography, especially artistic and fine art nudes, fashion and fetish genres. Widely published on both sides of the Atlantic, his work has taken him through Europe, the Americas and the Far East, creating limited edition prints and taking on commissions for international clients. Gregory began life as a saxophone player, playing with the Temptations, Big Sound Authority and Paul Weller, among others.
- Daikichi Amono (Japan) Finalist
Powerful photographs involving girls with octopuses, eels and other aquatic creatures…. all of which are eaten afterwards! He explains his work by saying: “I felt that the relation was amusing and that it was lascivious and then beautiful.”
- Rod McDonald (UK) Finalist
“The body fills me with wonder and awe,” says Rod, whose work with models from late teens to middle-age, reflects a range of physical types as his ideas and feelings about photography of the human form grow and change. “Images of the body make a powerful connection with us. They are us – as we are, as we were, as we would like to be, as we fear to become – or perhaps they are the Other we desire or fear.”