I exhibited my illustration work for the first time in real life last week for an event called “The Art of Consent”. Which was at Rich Mix, East London’s independent arts centre. The area has this wonderful vibrant energy, with so much amazing graffiti, which reminded me I need to get to that side of London more this often year. I arrived early to help set up, where I assisted making the goodie bags, ofcorse adding my own goodies of stickers and greeting cards.
When the event started and the lights went down, It dawned on me, what the event was all about. I had been so distracted helping the event that day, that I didn’t really prepare myself emotionally. It’s not often that you are in a room with over 100 people talking about consent and hearing peoples real honest experiences with rape.
So the lights went down and the film began, and my heart started to pound. I have generalised anxiety disorder which means I can have a panic attack at any moment without any reason, yay exciting right? So some of the panic attack triggers I have are, crowded spaces and small spaces, particularly if there is seating. There were a couple of moments when I couldn’t catch my breath and thought, “I’m not going to be able to sit through all of this”. But I did it, I sat through it all, and I’m so proud of myself. This was actually the 2nd time I’ve been able to sit through a whole event without having to get up and leave at some point since my diagnoses 5 years ago. It’s little wins like this that are really important to celebrate.
After we watched Phoebes amazing film 100 Women I Know, there was a Q&A with the makers of the film which I managed to record a lot of, so you can see it in the video below, (sorry for the shaky camera at times, I wasn’t expecting to films so much of it, but what the girls were talking about was so important. There was more of the night but my camera battery died).
Throughout most of the event I had goosebumps, I occasionally felt my eyes watering, from watching the movie, to listening to the Q&A, the book reading and the poetry that followed. The whole night I was reevaluating myself. I have built my voice as an illustrator, on being frank and honest about feminist issues online. But this event really made me realise that I don’t have enough of these conversations offline, and I myself have my own inner patriachry that continues to blame myself for the experiences I’ve had. When it comes to issues like this it’s hard enough to talk openly and honestly, if you yourself find it difficult to talk about. Watching these girls admit that they never spoke about their experiences with each other until they made this film, that really moved me. So I gave myself some homework and have decided to have some real honest chats about this with my friends in real life.
There was something in the air that night that I don’t want to ever forget. In our experiences of pain, we are all connected. It was such an honour to be part of such an important event and have my work alongside some really incredible artists I admire.
The artists that exhibited: