Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

What is art? It makes you think and feel, whether those feelings are of appreciation or joy or even resentment or distaste, art makes an impact on everyone. Anyone can be an artist, anyone can draw a on a piece of paper or apply paint to a canvas, but it takes a person with real dedication and passion to create great art. Art has always fascinated me since my early years of school when I began undertaking art classes; the ability to create something beautiful (or in many of my cases, horrible) was exciting. My Year 12 Art Studies led me to discover some very talented artists, including Del Katherin Barton, David Bromley, Debbie Miller and in particular Marie Larkin. Lakin’s strange and alien-like characters in her painting collection, Rhyme and Reason, became my insperation for developing my own work and since then have become obsessed with following her facebook page which can be found at the link provided here and continuing to stalk study her progress in the on going works. In becoming familiar with her through my blog page I enquired and was given the pleasure of conducting a interview with my artist crush.

Marie larkin

(The very talented Marie Larkin)

A short introduction to the brilliant Marie Larkin….

I have a Bachelor of Art Education and have been a visual artist and art teacher since 1980. I gained national recognition and success in the 1990’s as an embroiderer with a number of group and solo shows and two touring exhibitions through regional galleries in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.  My work was featured in Textile Fibre Forum, The Land newspaper and Masters of their Craft, a coffee table book by art historian, Norris Iannou.  I won The Dame Nancy Buttfield Embroidery Prize and The Namoi Valley Cotton Fibre Acquisitive Award.  Through the exhibition tour of Revealing Threads I was the recipient of a $10,000 Australia Council Grant that allowed me to travel to various towns and cities to give workshops.  I now work in painting, drawing, mixed media and sculpture and produce my artwork from a loft studio in my home near Tamworth, NSW.

What inspired your works?

I think my general inspiration is a very feminine aesthetic.  I create richly coloured, finely detailed, alternate worlds inhabited by beautiful girls, at once strange, yet delightful, with expressive eyes and dark natures. Works in painting, drawing and sculpture are inspired by fairytale and nursery rhyme narratives, pop culture, beauty and the feminine persona. There always has to be a girl in the work. For me the artwork has to have that human element so it can have some kind of narrative and the girls give the works their emotional content. Whether it is a nursery rhyme series like Rhyme and Reason or tattoo imagery such as the Irezumi Angel series or the current body of work I am creating at present which uses the horse and pony as a symbol, the works all involve a female character.

The eyes are enormously important in the artworks. Again they are the clue to the emotional content and as I’ve improved over the past two years the girls have become more expressive – they actually ‘think’ now. The works below are a good example. On the left is the original painting and on the right is a repainted version I made later. Same painting, same canvas, just reworked.  In the second works you can almost ‘hear’ the girls thinking and their gaze engages the viewer more effectively.

Which of your artwork pieces is your favourite?

I think my favourite is always the one I am currently working on! The painting above,  Irezumi Angel,  is my favourite from that series, and Sleeping Beauty, the painting is my favourite from the Rhyme and Reason series, although I am still very fond of Mis-Muffet who sold quite some time ago.

Sleeping Beauty


Is there an artist you relate to?

I have many artists I admire or whose style I am influenced by. Lori Early, Mark Ryden, Kukula, Caia Koopman, Ray Caesar, Natalie Shau, Brian Viveros, Lee Guk Hyun, John Brophy, Greg ‘Craola’ Simkins, Ken Keirns, Melissa Forman. I tend to like the Pop Surrealists and Lowbrow artists and painters with excellent technique.

Caia Koopman- Road Side Angel 

Brian M. Viveros– Dirtyland 4 Life

How long have you been painting/drawing/etc?

All my life really. I have always been an ‘artist’ – or someone who is compelled to make images and objects. I began teaching in 1980. I made a name for myself as an embroidery artist in the 1990’s and I was really very successful in that field. I was self taught in terms of learning stitches etc. It is impossible to be a successful artist and a good teacher at the same time. There simply isn’t the headspace for it. During the period 2000 to 2009 I was a full time art teacher again and in that role was responsible for teaching Yrs 7 through 12 and all the programming at my school, so my art career took a backseat during that period. I still made art, but not to exhibit or sell. The demands of my students’ creative efforts came first.  After 2009 I began to pursue my art again and that was when I began painting full time. I took up oil painting about two years ago.
What/who inspired you in your Rhyme and Reason collection?

Rhyme and Reason is a series of drawings, paintings and sculptures based on nursery rhymes with a darker twist.  The nursery rhyme and fairytale gave me the opportunity to play with an accessible, already familiar narrative and then surprise the audience with a different interpretation.I think the narrative is an important quality in art. The fairytales really lent themselves to my illustrative style and allow me to use quirky female characters.  They allowed me to create an alternate world to escape to and I love nothing better than painting little hills and lakes, and houses and roads that don’t really exist except in my imagination.

Which painting/drawing part of this particular collection is your favorite and why?

Sleeping Beauty, the painting is my favourite from the Rhyme and Reason series. It’s very big so it’s quite impressive, and there is something about the setting, detail and female character which I just love.

Have you ever had moments where you felt like giving up?

Many, many, times. I get rejections all the time and some can be quite hard. There is a great deal of frustration in getting recognition.  I haven’t been able to find inclusion in the current popular group of female artists. But you have to get used to that. And you have to ‘man up’, learn to roll with the punches, and toughen up the old artistic ego. Have faith in what you are doing. I am a very good technician and I work incredibly hard but I’m not a visionary or a particularly talented artist and I understand that. There are a lot, and I mean a lot of very very good painters out there to compete with and they are quite frankly much better than me.  The cost of being an artist is quite high. Galleries take up to 50% commission and artwork is a luxury item people can do without. It is hard. But it doesn’t matter because I am compelled to make the images anyway and am very happy doing so!
What is your favorite form of medium? And why?

I think painting is. I just love being about to ‘render’ something convincingly and I love colour. I use Old Holland paint and it is extremely expensive but the colours are so rich and I even enjoy the physical sensation of painting, os the paint going smoothly onto the canvas. That being said, I again stress I consider myself a technician – not a great painter. I had a student in Yr 9 who I would consider a natural painter. In the space of about 10 sq inches of her painting she had applied her paint in about five different ways. That’s a painter!

What’s the best thing about being an artist?

Everyone thinks it must be really cool! Actually it is. It’s a great gift and I love to think there isn’t anything I can’t draw or paint if I put my mind to it. There is a feeling of empowerment in that. I love it that I feel like I want to make something or create something so I do. it’s that simple. I’ve finally reached a point in my life where most days I can spend painting, drawing or designing my merchandise. That’s very satisfying. And I love it that what I do makes other people happy and gives them joy in their lives. That people get excited when they buy one of my works or commission one. Particularly commissions when I can put the little extra touches and references into their artwork that have real meaning for them.

What’s the worst thing about being an artist?

Frustration. Wanting to sell more work. Wanting greater recognition. Wanting to be better than you are.

Is there a purpose to your artwork?

I make my art to sell but, that being said, I make my art to please me. I treat each work as an exercise in improving, then everything else is a bonus!

How do you feel when people interpret your artwork differently?

Mostly I like it because it’s like seeing the work with fresh eyes, with an unexpected perspective. It can be quite helpful if the work isn’t finished. I might emphasise or develop an aspect that I hadn’t seen as clearly.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid of rejection. Concentrate on the positive. Seek criticism, listen to advice and feedback if you can get it. Never, ever be satisfied with your level of expertise – keep raising the bar and strive to refine and perfect your craft. Look at the work of other artists and really examine what makes it successful. Look at their technique to help you learn. Don’t panic when something isn’t working.  Sometimes you muddle along and then it all gels. Be prepared to rework or toss a work. Don’t be precious. Concentrate on the positive. Be patient. Follow through in terms of pushing a work to be the very best you can produce, you never know where going that extra mile will take you, and I speak from personal experience there!

Kind regards to the brilliant Marie Larkin for taking her time to answer these questions, and for providing excellent advice to aspiring artists. I encourage everyone to follow Marie via her Facebook page,, and to take a look at her website,

Digital Surveillance: Our Right To Privacy

Consumers are the captains of their own new-media ships. Joseph Turow’s focus in his novel, The Daily You, examines the opinion that advertising companies are experiencing a ‘revolution’ in marketing, and media.  Networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Blogs are allowing marketing companies and Governments to intrude into our personal lives. The internet and other forms of digital media have increased surveillance as the sites themselves improve the development of advanced sites * and security systems are implicating onto the personal space of the public. Social networking sites, Google sites and CCTV Security systems all play a role in the new modern form of digital surveillance.

Advertising companies experience a great amount of benefits from the increase in security on social networking sites; in particular the social networking site Facebook withholds much of our personal information, which is easily available for anyone to access. When allowing access into our Facebook accounts we are allowing unknown companies and people our private information; while at times we are not aware of this, in some cases we do consciously allow it when the offer of discounts and sample products are set.  Willingly sacrificing our privacy on the network by joining games and downloading applications via Facebook gives permission for the owners of the game/app to receive our private information, and in many cases it is advertising companies that are the controllers of these apps.

When downloading an application on Facebook you are permitting your basic information such as date of birth, gender, your email address, your profile information (interests, likes, location, relationship status, religious and political views, etc), your stories (check-ins, events, photos and status updates) and Friends profile information. “On Facebook, we know exactly what gender someone is and exactly what age they are,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.  This form of surveillance preformed on the internet by companies is to a great extent an invasion of privacy; the use of this data goes towards benefitting advertising companies and groups in the marketing of their products/brands. This invasion of privacy is evidence that our private information is not safe on the net, if this information can be easily sourced how protected are we on the net? Social concerns associated with social networking sites include teenagers and children being exposed to strangers, the risks of children under the age of fourteen using social networking sites and also to companies using the sites to collect marketing information.

Social networking sites do prove to be the biggest offenders of breaching privacy, through the use of Facebook surveillance, for the benefits of advertising companies. However there is also another form of digital media which make for an example of invasion of privacy and surveillance via the internet. Google’s increase in surveillance of its users has offered some implications to do with the fact that they disregard privacy of individuals. Two aspects of Google’s programming which fit into the category of surveillance of public and privacy issues are that…

  1. Google keeps track of all search records: Google claim in their Privacy information that they store data in order to ‘improve our search results and to maintain the security of our systems… we receive requests from government agencies around the world to provide information about users of our services and products.’ Keeping this data is a concerning matter; everything that an individual looks at is watched and noted, whilst in cases this can benefit the Government it is also an extreme invasion of privacy to one’s personal affairs.
  2. Google Street View: The Google Street View is an extremely creative and advanced technological feature which provides panoramic views from positions along many streets of the world. This feature of Google however has been put under the eye of many political and social spectators for its privacy issues. There have been many objections to this Google feature as it provides images of private property to images capturing identities of individuals.

A significant experience in reference to the Google Street View program and its privacy issues was last experienced late February, 2010, when Google was taken to the Swiss court for the second time. Concern from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Japan and Greece was expressed in reference to the fact that people’s faces are in many cases not blurred, license plate numbers were identifiable and the height of the Street View camera allowed for viewing of private areas.

This form of surveillance which Google preforms is similar to another system used in many countries in the world, established by Governments. Britain is well known for their excessive use of a CCTV Surveillance. Whilst the use of CCTV Systems is popular among many Governments in Countries, it is a successful way of monitoring and offering security to the public. With a network of over 1.85 million CCTV Cameras this system has caused similar arguments to those experienced with the Google Street View program. Whilst this surveillance system does provide reassurance and protection to the public, it is also an invasion of privacy with many cameras pointing into privately owned areas and the public constantly being watched and observed by the Government. Benefits which the British Government receive from conducting this CCTV Surveillance System of the country is it helps with security and enhances the protection of the public; however the excessive amount of cameras which are not only in major public areas but smaller, less populated areas in which they are not truly required (i.e. suburban streets).

These different examples of surveillance all can conclude into one outlook which Cowen summed up perfectly “A man without privacy is a man without dignity; the fear that Big Brother is watching and listening threatens the freedom of the individual no less than the prison bars” (Cowen 1969). Individuals must be aware that when it comes to digital media there is no privacy on the consumer web and that you must assume everything you post is either public today or it will be later on; you must be smart when putting private information onto the internet.

Capturing The Audience

The novel The Host, written by Stephenie Meyer, employs a range of varying literary techniques to present an engaging post-apocalyptic world where humans are rapidly becoming extinct. Meyer captures the attention of the reader through the use of techniques such as imagery, flashbacks and characterization. Through these techniques, Meyer is able to present scenes, and develop characters which appeal to the reader, in order to capture the attention of the reader throughout the novel.

The use of creative imagery enables Meyer to establish the setting, while the use of metaphors and descriptive writing captures the reader’s attention. The use of a metaphor to describe the abandoned building as a tomb enhances the tension and increases the fear of the scene, felt by both the character and the reader. ‘An elevator shaft. Abandoned, empty, and condemned, like this building. Once a hiding place, now a tomb,’ (page 9). The narration of this scene is presented to the reader by the main character as she experiences a flashback; she gives an insight into what has previously happened to give understanding of how the main character, Wanderer, was to be placed into the body of the original owner, Melanie. The in-depth description of the attempted suicide by the character creates a sense of fear and highlights to the reader the setting in which the text in presented; also highlighting the post-apocalyptic setting of the text.

Meyer employs the use of flashbacks in the novel to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of the characters minds. Throughout the novel, Melanie offers memories to Wanderer as a way of giving an insight into her past, however also in an attempt to manipulate Wanderer. This enables Meyer to develop the text and present different plots in an appealing and engaging way, which captivates the reader. Both characters are one person, ‘My body- she was thinking! Speaking to me!’- However the use of the conversations between the two, private to other characters, helps towards creating an emotional connection between the reader and the book. It is through these conversations that both characters are at their most vulnerable and that the reader becomes sympathetic towards them both. ‘You can help them. You can protect them better than I could. She sighed.’ (Page 489) Both characters know each other’s deepest wants and secrets.

‘My body is human, I told her, while I’m attached to it, I’m human, too. And the way you see Jamie in your memories… well, it’s all your fault.’ (Page 140) This is an example of Meyer using her major technique of memories within her text to keep the readers interested; it is a private conversation between the main characters Wanderer and Melanie in her head. The use of memories, by Meyer as a technique, introduces the reader to a more in depth analysis of the main characters, Wanderer and Melanie, thus creating a strong connection between the reader and the text as they come to sympathise for the characters. It is a private conversation which other characters are not aware of and information/secrets are only recognised by the two characters and the reader, this allows the reader a deeper insight into the characters behaviour. This use of memories, in conjunction with characterisation, allows the reader to sympathise with Wanderer and Melanie.

Meyer uses characterisation to engage the reader, creating a connection between the reader and the text as the reader comes to understand and sympathise with the characters. ‘The soul shone in the brilliant lights of the operating room…like a living ribbon, she twisted and rippled, stretching, happy to be free of the cryotank,’ (page 4). This is an example of Meyer’s use of characterisation and imagery used together to have an extreme impact on the reader. It maintains the reader’s attention as the readers are able to use these techniques to understand the description of the character and what is happening as well. The imagery which is used is a simile; Meyer employs the use of this technique to express the beauty of the moment in which the character is being presented.

Meyer’s use of creative techniques to support her themes and characters is how a strong connection is formed between the reader and the text. This emotional connection is challenged on many occasions however ultimately, the audience joins Wanderer on her final decision; the decision to remove herself from Melanie’s body. The conclusion to the text leaves the reader confused and fearful for the main character. The use of the emotional conversations between Melanie and Wanderer on the topic of Wanderer removing herself from Melanie’s body due to guilt; this ending enhances the emotional connection between the reader and the text. ‘Don’t you want to be free? (Wanderer) A long pause. I wouldn’t ask you this…’ (Melanie). These techniques not only express Meyer’s post-apocalyptic theme but opens up the reader to an emotional connection with the text as they experience what the characters experiences and it is this connection which maintains the reader’s attention. This novel in comparison to past writings of Meyer’s, such as the Twilight series, has been constructed carefully with the establishment of creative techniques. Meyer’s plot also lends a hand in captivating the audience. I would highly recommend this to a weekend read.

Are We Out Of The Kitchen Yet?

The 1950s – a time well before the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s, when sexism was not only tolerated, it was expected and actively encouraged.[1] The media has dominated our western society since before the 1950’s and has continued their role of domination up until today.  Commercials have had the ability to reinforce and limit a woman’s role to the domestic household; however, women in our contemporary times are now being reinforced as sexual objects, much different to our original domestic role.

From the end of the 1940’s to the beginning of the 1950’s the introduction of colour television made an extreme impact on the lives of white, middle class western families. At this stage advertising was based in the home and the housewife played the major role; in this context the domestic sphere and women as its guardian was the ideal. The housewife is represented as a beautiful wife who is made up at all times of the day, the cook and maid, consumer, mother and loyal wife.[2] Women in today’s context are represented as more than a housewife; they are now professional working women as well as wives and mothers. However it is in the way that women are presented in commercials which has given a new perception; women are now stylized as sex objects.

A contrasting difference between commercials from the 1950’s compared to now is, as mentioned before, how women are now presented in a much more sexualised form. The use of sexily presented women in commercials for cars, alcohol, etc. is very common and accepted. Kim Kardashian became very recognised for her overly sexualised role for Carl’s Jr. Commercial, in which she is used to sell a new salad. The domestic sphere is presented with this advertisement; however the bedroom and bathroom in which the commercial is set gives a sensual mood. In comparison to a commercial such as the Pepsi-cola discussed earlier, this contemporary advertisement differs very much; the female figure, which is well recognised as a celebrity, enhances the interest within the commercial. Despite the advertisement being intended for a salad meal, Kim Kardashian is presented wearing a shiny and skimpy bathrobe which also gives the insinuation of dark undergarments. The camera focuses more on her, showing her rolling around on the bed and when eating the salad the camera focuses on her lips as well as her bust. The presentation of the female figure is completely unnecessary and most definitely demoralises women as the female body is exploited; the fact that Kim Kardashian is completely okay to have herself misused this way is a very concerning issue.

The way in which women are now portrayed and exploited for the use of selling objects is much altered  from the early 1950’s, after the Second World War. The media then played a major role in manipulating women back to their original gender roles as well as selling products. The media controlled how a woman should portray herself in society; the idea of a working woman was seen as distasteful when she should be home cleaning, cooking and caring for her children. A commercial, dated from the 1950s, by Pepsi-cola looks at a woman wanting to stay beautiful, slim and attractive for her husband and for her to achieve this she must drink pepsi-cola. This commercial completely demoralizes women as a woman’s role is completely ruled out for her, by an advertisement for a drink. The aim of this commercial is to make women believe that if they drink ‘pepsi-cola’ they will remain beautiful, slim and attractive; something everyone woman wants and requires, apparently.

The commercial begins with a male voice who says “once upon a time, quite recently in fact, there was a little girl, an ordinary little girl, who was quite beautiful. Like all ordinary little girls she couldn’t wait to grow up. As time flew by she met a boy, they fell in love, were married and lived happily ever after. In real life however a girl has to work hard at living happily ever after…”[3] the dialogue in this commercial is targeted at women very plainly, taking on the form of a fairy tale story. The female character is referred to as ‘our heroine,’ in order to keep with the ‘ fairy tale story’ theme – ironic considering her life is being structured and dominated by her husband, in the manner of how she must present herself as a woman in order to attain the ‘perfect life.’

The Pepsi-cola commercial is a great example of how a woman’s role was defined and ruled by a patriarchal media; and this domination still continues through till today. The beauty standards have been taken far more seriously by women. What the media presents has dramatically changed, whereas in the 1950’s a Marylyn Monroe body was desired but is now considered overweight and distasteful.  Unhealthy body images, the same body shape and fashion trends which are continually documented in a woman’s everyday life makes it difficult to ignore these new ‘standards.’ Difference and uniqueness have never been celebrated by the media, rather they are attributes to be shunned and judged. The media’s dominant role in a woman’s contemporary life makes it difficult to escape the pressure to look a certain way.

Women are conditioned from a young age by commercials to believe that they can only be wives and mothers; in earlier times the media and society never allowed women to believe that they could become hard-working, intelligent women in the public sphere of work or public life.  Women are now traditionally taught that their role is different; being classed as a sexual object is now expected and highly appraised; yet our domestic role is still heavily acknowledged and encouraged at the same time. An aspect within advertising which has not yet been disregarded is beauty – beauty within a woman is everything. However, the contemporary perception of beauty has become dangerously distorted. In the western world today we have a misleading understanding of what beauty is. Beauty is a subject which the media currently explores through commercials on television and in magazines; differing little from the 1950s, beauty is still heavily manipulated by the media in order to sell products, with little thought of the effect on buyers. Society has always believed that a woman is defined by her beauty, evident through-out the way women are portrayed within advertisements.

A contemporary commercial which defines this new beauty is the promotional advertisement for Australia’s Next Top Model; the girls who are presented within the commercial as identical, offering no sense of individuality in the girls. The television show Australia’s Next Top Model is popular among teenage and young adult females; the way in which the commercial presents a model-worthy beauty is very different from the Marylyn Monroe beauty presented within the 1950’s. This commercial reinforces a the female stereotype whilst also presenting to the audience what is considered to be beautiful in the fashion world; the girls are presented applying lipstick and brushing their perfect hair, they wear identical dresses which are similar to pencil skirts and restrict their movement, this restrictment is also reinforced by the heels that they wear.  In association to the beauty of the girls, a major issue that can be identified is that the girls who are chosen to represent all other women are of a body size which is in some cases highly unachievable and unhealthy.

Exposure to these images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls.[4] These body figures are presented day in and day out by the media; the female body is being exposed and exploited in order to sell material objects such as clothing, cars and alcohol. The way in which women are now used to sell items in much different to the way women were presented in commercials in the 1950’s; the female role has changed dramatically but still stays the same in some cases. Beauty as it stands currently seems to be influenced by how thin a female body is.

Yet still the female domestic role continues to be promoted through commercials, proving that indeed the domestic role played by women in the 1950’s commercials still continues up until today. A contemporary advertisement by the popular cleaning brand, Mr. Muscle, in which a woman plays the ‘damsel in distress’ role and Mr. Muscle (presented as everyone woman’s dream man by his muscly and superhero appearance and being the one who ‘saves’ the day) who aids the woman in her time of cleaning needs. The commercial presents the woman in the kitchen cleaning yet dealing with the issue of a blocked drain; no husband is present helping her because it is very likely he is working. The arrival of a cartoon Mr. Muscle appears and helps her with the introduction of a cleaning liquid which fixes her blocked drain issue. This commercial is further evidence of how a female’s domestic job is still encouraged and recognised by society through advertising. The end of the commercial also presents another woman, also located in a kitchen, requiring the help of Mr. Muscle. The irony of this commercial is that it presents a woman’s biggest problems as those surrounding cleaning issues inside the house. But this is not a woman’s role.

This is not how women should be recognized by society, despite the gender roles slightly changing in many Western societies there is still a great amount of sexism surviving through the media. In conclusion however I also believe it only fair to point out another discriminating factor- the representation of the male gender role. Whilst women may still be shown in their original, stereotypical gender role, Media also reinforces a more subtle expectation for the male gender role. Commercial’s have a habit of presenting men as helpless in the kitchen, almost dependent on the female figure to care for them. In many cases the use of humor covers up the obvious fact that the commercial is presenting two very strong gender roles- the women is in charge of the domestic role whilst the man can not be ‘trusted’ to complete this role successfully. Advertising has made their opinion clear. To be a woman is to be feminine and to be a man is to be masculine. There is little room for variation or a reversal roles. It is up to society to recognize and understand this, only then can society act appropriately and begin to fix the distorted gender roles.

Feminism is a dirty word. Do young women still need feminism today?

Feminism was once described as a movement by women who fought for equal rights, independence and aimed to stop sexism; however today our generation is losing the true meaning of feminism. Women no longer associate themselves with feminism because not only has the true meaning been misinterpreted, but women no longer feel that they need to fight for these rights. “I think my generation is the first to enjoy equality and the fact I don’t feel the need to identify as a feminist indicates how far we’ve come.” [1]Sally Urquhart has stated in the article The F Word that she believes the reason women no longer wish to identify themselves as feminist is that they believe we have come as far as we can. However Sally Urquhart does go on to explain that she does understand and appreciate what her mother’s generation went through in order to gain the equality that western women experience now. Unlike most contemporary women today who do not understand what the generations of women went through in order to gain some sense of equality between the genders.

Despite the efforts of the first wave feminists, contemporary women are still not experiencing equal rights; however modern women seem to have given up on fighting for them. Women now seem to have forgotten that it is feminism which is responsible for the advancement of women’s rights to vote; with the dedication of women such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as first wave feminists, also recognized as the first suffragettes. It was the movements of women such as these two which resulted with the passage of the nineteenth amendment to the United States Constitution in 1919 when women’s rights to vote were granted. But despite the actions taken by the first wave and second wave women, third wave women still have far to come. The perception of feminism is what stops young women; people such as Pat Robertson who have brought forward the negative and untrue meaning of feminism and feminists themselves. “Feminists encourage women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, become lesbians, and destroy capitalism.”[2] This is why young women no longer want to associate themselves with feminism because of what others may think of them because feminism is now a word which many associate with “radical or militant women who want to be men”[3]

“While the professional and legal positions of women have improved enormously in the last half-century, socially and domestically, we’ve barely progressed at all…” this statement from Emily Maguire perfectly expresses the view that those who are part of the third wave do not believe that the progress we have made is not yet enough.  The gender pay gap and the lack of equality in representation in our parliamentary systems are examples of today’s issues; however the voices of the third wave feminist are silent. The reasons behind all of this avoidance of feminism are from the mass media who negatively advertise its meaning and the lack of education on the true meaning of feminism; and what the point of feminism is. Such as images of bra burning at the protest, even though the burnings didn’t occur, they were still portrayed by the mass media to the public; sending out the wrong message rather than the intended message of commenting on women being only judged by their looks rather than brains.

While there was no bra burning however during any of the second wave protests there were other symbolic acts; such as the tossing of clothing into bins in order to represent the message of women being judged by looks as well as some women, including Emmeline Pankhurst, from both the first wave and the second wave going as far as to go on hunger strikes to continue their fight even when in jail. The mass-media being recognized as having taken part in the stereotyping of feminism as anti-male lesbians; this explaining why most women tend to avoid associating themselves with feminism. The effects of, in particular the media, describing feminist as hairy-leg lesbians has not only stereotyped them but also turn women off from associating themselves as a feminist as they do not want to be linked with this term.

So despite women these days understanding and supporting gender equality, particularly within other countries they are avoiding the idea of feminism, bringing the idea to younger girls that feminism was only a part of our past and not to be brought into our future. This avoidance of feminism is creating a form of dis-empowerment for women; women have lost a sense of unity. “Now, don’t get me wrong, women can be great friends with other women, but in certain contexts and often in the case of unknown women, a woman considers another woman, especially one who is making a big deal out of her femininity, as being something of an enemy. Or at least a potential threat.”[4]  Throughout all of the First and Second Wave women fought against patriarchy figures. However women are now fighting against each other in order to receive the attention of men, taking women back to the beginning rather than progressing.

[1] Sally Urquhart, Newspaper article, The F Word

[2] Pat Robertson,  Right-wing conservative & opponent of feminism

[3] Stephen Lunn, The Australian, What Young Women Want

Life’s Little Luxuries

(Life’s Little Luxuries- Nicole/Nicky Parker)

Cupcakes are an everyday treat for my Y generation; they are no longer recognised as luxuries to be enjoyed on special occasions. It is my generation that is becoming highly addicted to having the “best of everything.” We are a consumerist’s society and what should be a luxury is now an indulgence that is less about sharing a common social nicety, but rather it is more like a social “must-have” and “must be seen.” The cupcake is both a status symbol and a readily accessible commodity.

My cupcakes are glossy and pop-influenced – like mass produced Andy Warhol objects of desire. The bold coloured setting of the cupcakes brings a modern sensation, keeping my generation in touch whilst also making the impasto cupcakes pop. Vanessa Valencia was my influencing artist, her artworks A Fanciful Twist and Two Layered Cake inspired me in my painting technique. My personal experience of growing up and working in my family’s bakery has given me the advantage of being socially aware of the emotional connection people have developed with food. When in business I have learnt that presentation is everything, no longer does quality play a major role but rather people buy what looks best. Through the use of edible materials (i.e. the sprinkles and sugar balls) I have represented how important appearance has become to our society. The attraction to the cupcakes comes through the presentation and decoration; they are designed in order to appeal through the use of colour and flavour.

By creating my paintings with the impasto I have created the impression of “plastic” cupcakes, thus reflecting our fast-paced consumerist obsessions.  Even as I write, socially aware young women are scrambling to join “tea-parties” in fashionable, upmarket eateries and cafes. Their tables are heaving with confectionery – cupcakes shiny with frosted icing in pastel colours and sprinkles. But are these young women experiencing the real thing?

Debbie Miller’s cupcakes are described as delicious and appealing, almost real looking. The way in which she creates such realistic icing and the use of the decorations, such as ‘hundreds and thousands,’ present classy and lifelike compositions. In her paintings it is other elements, such as the sprinkles or a cherry, that are added to the cupcakes which enhance the appearance and this is the same process used in reality. Appearance is a very important aspect of food and with cakes an “expensive” aspect is continuously applied because that is what society now wants.

Little Miss Muffet

(My very own piece of art work)

Nursery rhymes and fairy tales can be scary things. As we mature, leaving behind our childhood, we never forget our favourite childhood story. Beauty and humour have always been aspects of nursery rhymes and fairy tale stories; however another aspect which I can recognise is the distortion of truth. They are fake and unrealistic; they shape our gender perceptions and present an often distorted reality for children.

Marie Larkin’s fairy tale characters reflect this propensity for distortion that is seen in various children’s stories. This was the inspiration for my own ideas. Her exaggeration of the eyes and head in her portraits Red’s Revenge and Mis-Muffet reminded me of this distortion that is presented in fairy tales and nursery rhymes.  The characters that Larkin present offer a new interpretation to the nursery rhyme for her audience; her figures are genuinely scary. They are not for a child audience, but rather reference adult memory of childhood experiences.

I too also wanted to present this distortion of and the connection to fairy tale stories that change for us as we grow to adulthood. My previous study of Del Kathryn Barton had opened my interest to the distorted female figure, principally the big eyes and big head on a small body. Children begin to draw this way – creating human figures with outsized heads on stick bodies. Even when small, children recognise the importance of eyes as a means to communicate without speech.  Del Kathryn Barton understands this cognitive development in children’s drawing and perception. She exploits this in her highly adult orientated art works which in many ways, although highly decorative, are quite disturbing.

(Marie Larkin, Mis-Muffet)

A quote from Larkin inspired me in the process of my own practical; ‘Nursery rhymes can be quite scary things… they are humorous but it’s a dark black humour…’[1]   This influenced me in developing a different perception of a nursery rhyme. In my practical, I have taken Little Miss Muffet as my central character. She is loosely based on a year eight student whose mother read the rhyme to her often as a small child. My dark twist comes through representing my female character “Miss Muffet” in a power suit. She is a business woman made vulnerable through holding her bowl full of curds and whey. The “spider” is the glass ceiling and male sexism in the workplace. My study of Women’s Studies has informed the way I have interpreted this seemingly simplistic nursery rhyme. Nursery rhymes in themselves are intrinsically sexist and mirror much of society’s gender construction that children learn almost from birth.

(Del Kathryn Barton, Keeper of the Polka-dots)

Tequila Mockingbird

What is the best aspect of University? The University Clubs of course. Still asking why? Two simple words. Pub Crawls. Just get a tingle of excitement? Same here. Adelaide University has their newest club this year, the Humanities and Social Science Association also known as HaSSA, who hosted their first Pub Crawl last week, the 25th of May 2012. Their theme, as can be seen above, Tequila Mockingbird (classic!). The night consisted of this timeline…

Unibar- 5pm to 7pm

PJ’s- 7pm-8:30pm

Austral- 8:30pm-10pm

Elephant 10pm-12am

Shotz 12-close

With a plan like that there was no way anything could go wrong. The night was indeed planned out perfectly, with each pub being is easy walking distance, food discounts at various places along Rundle Street, with some of the best entertainment (for those who went and are reading this, how good was the live band at The Elephant!?) and with one of the most entertaining shirts so far. If I was to complain about one aspect, it would be the chosen colour of the shirt. Blue? Really? Why not black? It was difficult enough coming up with an outfit at the beginning, and then taking into consideration the bright blue… next time, please go black or even just focus on darker shades, a nice dark navy blue would have worked well.

Beginning the night off at everyones favourite place on campus, Unibar! Who wasn’t excited by the $10 jugs and happy hour from 6pm-7pm!? The atmosphere sure was pumping, with some excellent music being provided by a live band and the friendly bar service, along with games of beer pong, Unibar set up the Crawl for a skyrocket success.

Upon moving on at exactly… or maybe a little after 7pm, P.J. O’Brien’s got everyone’s feet moving with a live Irish band playing and mixing that atmosphere with the offer of $5 Pints, Base Spirits and House Wine, PJ’s sure did impress. I would highly recommend P.J’s to anyone! I found nothing better than listening to an Irish accent when ordering my drinks. Also the mix of alcohol, a game of pool and live music was PERFECT!

After one amazing hour and a half at PJ’s everyone moved on down to the well known Austral! Now my first opinion of the Austral from previous experiences is… its always PACKED. And that past opinion did not change on this night. There was no room at all. No spare table, stool or chair. And getting a drink meant pushing through groups of people who think that blocking the bar is a GOOD thing… there is a special place in hell for those people… but asides from being over crowded, which is honestly a good thing for the pub, it was quite the perfect place to chat once you got hold of your $12 jug of Adelaide Hills Cider. However, in all honesty I must admit, after 30 minutes of being in the Austral I just wanted to get moving. Or at most, head on back to PJ’s! Constantly losing my friends among the crowd of blue shirted people, I resulted to making friends with the poster covered corner of the room, closest to the front exit. Sorry Austral buddies, but you do not make my list of favourite pubs to visit on a pubcrawl.

(The excellent team behind the HaSSA Pub crawl)

Now for those of you who don’t know…or can’t remember… the second to last stop, The Elephant, was one of the best choices when it came to planning this pub crawl. The Elephant would have to be one of my favourite pubs in all of Adelaide. Why? Because my friends, not only do they make the best Creamy Garlic Prawn but they sure know how to entertain! With an always amazing band list and awesome happy hour, drink specials, they know how to set the atmosphere. I did not in fact enjoy a $4 bubbly however which had me in a toilet stall quickly after (however I am very much your classic lightweight).

Now adding onto the fact that I am a lightweight I can sadly not go on to explain how great and fun Shotz was because sadly my memory fades there. However comments that I have heard in reference to the ending at Shotz was ‘I had so much fun, I danced for all I was worth…’ and ‘could not have been happier with the $5 pints and 5 for $15 shots.’ Now all in all I have to say this was one of the most successful Pub Crawls of the Year (so far). Big thanks to the HaSSA Group for organising it!

Talk to you guys later!

Nicky xx

Treat Mum Like A Princess

BTS Cafe. Also known as Adelaide’s famous Better Than Sex Cafe but don’t worry about spilling that knowledge to your mother when you’re enjoying your delicious cupcake and coffee. But if there is one thing I must say into reference to the store name…they are not lying. There cakes are absolutely amazing!

Now before I continue there is a major fact I must point out. When it comes to mother’s day I get completely lost. Being my mother’s daughter I should know what to get her, problem is she is very much your classic ‘I don’t want any presents’ type of woman. It is very frustrating. So today when I walked straight into the adorable little pink stripped corner shop with the acronym BTW on the signage outside, the smell of freshly baked cakes hung in the air. I was hitched instantly.

And suddenly my questions were answered with this…

If there is one thing I have made clear in most of my posts it is my love for cupcakes, so it can be understandable to believe that indeed my mother would also have this similar obsession. Asides from that however I just thought they looked absolutely delicious and always gave me an easy way out of finding her a present she very likely will not like. What better way to show your love than through food?

I highly suggest to those of you living in Adelaide or visiting to go check out the BTS Cafe, you will not be disapointed! Don’t forget to also follow them on facebook at!/groups/75769766278/

Until next time darlings,

Ciao xxx

Can Only Federalism Can Save The Territorial Unity Of The United Kingdom?

In the world of democracies, Britain is different. Why? Because simply it is one of the oldest democracies, its political system has been evolving for more than 800 years. As most of you might know, during the medieval times France was claimed under rule by the then King of England; differently now however they are not, yet sovereignty was gained over Wales and Scotland, still remaining to today. There are obvious limitations present in the British model, through the failure to transplant its institutions to countries gaining independence from the British Empire, and even more by the failure of institutions that have worked in England to bring political stability in Northern Ireland. The evolution of democracy in Britain contrasts highly with the European history of countries switching between democratic and undemocratic forms of government. A system of asymmetric devolution was established for the first time in Great Britain in 1999. Its advocates hoped it would strengthen public support for the maintenance of the United Kingdom, whereas its critics feared it would have the opposite effect.

Now in order to judge whether or not Federalism in the United Kingdom would have any positive effects you must first look at the current examples of Federalism in the world today. Federalism is followed not only in the world’s first world countries such as United States of America, Australia and Canada, but also present in developing countries such as Mexico, India and Brazil. Federalism in the United States was established during the constructing of their Constitution during 1787. Many nations, as listed, have adopted this way of Federalism as they believe it will help with enabling different regions with different cultures and interests to join together as one nation.

A major aspect of Federalism, which is an important argument when it comes to Federalism in the United Kingdom, is that it requires a division of powers in government as Federalism can be seen in a number of ways:

  1. Separate State Constitutions. Each of the six States retains its own Constitution, Parliament and Government.
  2. The Federal-State division of powers. The Australian Constitution establishes the Commonwealth of Australia in which “the legislative power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Federal Parliament”. The Constitution also details a range of powers and responsibilities of the Federal Parliament. Powers not enumerated in this section are known as residual powers because they reside with the States. This division of powers between the central and State governments is the core of the federal idea.
  3. The structure of the Senate. This chamber comprises an equal number of senators from each State, regardless of population. Hence, Tasmania has 12 Senators, as does New South Wales, even though there is a huge difference in population between the two. The Senate has to approve all legislation passed by the House of Representatives.

Brazil’s in a comparative aspect has shown that Federalism has to an extent worked for them, despite being a developing country.  Brazil employs three different electoral systems: president, state governors and major cities. Brazil parties and system however is less ‘controlled’ and so have been seen as ‘weak’ in comparison to their counterparts elsewhere in Latin America. As stated by Frances Hagopain and Timothy J. Power, Brazil’s party system remains one of the most disjointed on the world. Despite efforts of reformers to reduce the number of parties in Congress.

When it comes to the divided structure of the government into States in comparison the United States is approximately is 2,903,380,506 square miles larger than the United Kingdom. The United States is divided into a Separate State Constitution; if actions such as this was to take place in the United Kingdom which is considerably smaller then the United States thus it relies on the support of a complete union. In simpler terms, if the United Kingdom was to change to Federalism certain states would suffer more than others due to the high level of debt being experienced.  And with the amount of debt in the Country, if States were left to deal with debt by themselves, being so small they would suffer leading to no territorial unity being made. There are many factors which are important to take into consideration; examples have shown that Federalism has worked extremely well for countries such as Australia, the United States, Brazil (to an extent, seeing as they are suffering manty political and economic downturns) and many more. I believe however that an approach of Federalism would not help save the Territorial Unity of the United Kingdom, but rather make the country suffer economically. It is hard to argue that because Federalism has worked in other Countries it would work for the United Kingdom. There are other options which are yet to be explored and considered; the changing of a constitution and developing of states during a difficult point of time for with the major issue of high debt Federalism is not the way to go.

Australian Federalism; Federalism, Malcolm Farnsworth,

Federalism: A Legal Research, What is Federalism?  pp. 3-7, Adrian Espiritu, 24 October 2008

Devolution: The New Federalism Overview, Robert Tannenwald, May/June 1998

Works Cited:

Australian Federalism; Federalism, Malcolm Farnsworth,

Federalism: A Legal Research, What is Federalism?  pp. 3-7, Adrian Espiritu, 24 october 2008

Devolution: The New Federalism Overview, Robert Tannenwald, May/June 1998

Comparative Politics Today, A World View, Politics in Brazil, Chapter 15,  Frances Hagopain and Timothy J. Power