Friday, 17 August 2012

The evils of censorship

"Delenda est Carthago" Cato the Censor, used these words to conclude every speech he made in the Senate. It means Carthage Must Be Destroyed.

I'm unbelievably hacked off.  I've had yet another request from a quilting magazine asking me if they can do a piece about my work, but yet again they want the story and the techniques but don't want to publish any pictures.

You cannot print an article about what I do without including pictures. No, you REALLY can't.  I have already turned down 3 other magazines for this very reason.

AND why do they not want to print the pictures?  Because of some of you dear readers.  "The Public" don't like naked people.  It's not done. It's not Christian. It's not nice. It's not ethical. It's not tasteful. It's not homely. It's not something we want to see. It's not The American Way. Apparently.

So have my lovely ladies been confused with porn?  Are they in some way unknown to me deeply erotic?   I doubt it.  Are they shocking?  Well perhaps they are and perhaps in the circumstances that's a good thing.  We came into this world naked, and when we take a bath or change our clothes we are still naked. Some of us even take our clothes off to procreate. Since when did that become something to be ashamed of?

The wider art world accepts and welcomes life drawing and painting as a difficult, challenging, rewarding and valid genre of art.  As I've said before, the walls of the Vatican, most of the Churches in Rome and indeed Europe, as well as every decent art gallery, has nudes portrayed in one form or another.  At a recent exhibition I went to about flying and early planes, nearly half the images on show contained nudes. A FLYING exhibition.

So why, in heavens upon earth, can't you portray real life people with no clothes on, on a quilt?

To be fair, you can in some places. England for example is very happily sensible and takes a wider viewpoint at least in it's Galleries and public spaces, and I know this is true of other European countries, but I wonder if any of the quilting magazines would print images of my quilts??   Is this a quilters censorship only?

"If you want to change a whole people, then you start with the girls. It stands to reason: they learn faster, and they pass on what they learn to their children"

I'm baffled. Some people obviously could do with a few more diagrams of human bodies to help them sort their arse out from their elbow.

My quilts are about emotional response.  Lots of beautiful, beautiful quilts are art and depict  many easier subjects, perhaps playing with colour combinations, dealing with techniques that show a new way forward, of abstracting and altering images, and shapes to define and highlight certain attributes. They win prizes and adoration.  My art however, is about what I feel, what I want to say literally as well as pictorally.

I've had thousands of hits on the posting I did about the words on Life 4, and they can't all have been from idignant people. The comments would suggest that the quilt was thought refreshing and to the point.

If you don't want to print my quilts, then please leave me alone. You deny me a voice and the opportunity of reaching a wider audience.  You suck.


  1. THEY suck. That sums it up perfectly well in my opinion. I would LOVE to read about your technique in a magazine, and I would want pictures, of course !!

  2. quoi le fuck??? what i said last time only turned up by 10. this just makes me tired and angry.

    you make art, my lovely - nothing to do with those small minded, toes tucked in wowsers.

    i want to go and kick something....

  3. Annabel - you should have sent this letter not only to each of the magazines, but to the newspaper! It would make a great feature story.

    They are not the only ones - there are community-run galleries here that say "no nudes" in case, god forbid, some school children come through. It's endemic - and too sad for words. Unfortunately, there is more and more of this censorship with the growth of the right wing religious/political movement in the U.S.

  4. I don't understand how you can print ANY article about quilting technique without a picture. The last time I checked, visual arts were, well, visual. That means we need pictures.

    Common sense aside, I really don't get it. If they like your work, they should publish it. If they don't, then they should stop with the half-assed compromise.

  5. The issue you raise is sad, indeed. Art work that passionately and compassionately depicts people in their naked glory is censored, yet any child can watch TV show, not to mention magazines and movies, that show nudity and sex. Perhaps it is the adults who are shocked by these images. The authenticity of the images demands more honesty and introspection than they are willing to engage in.

    Good for you that you have the gumption to stand up to these magazines, and speak your truth. I applaud you as I stand right behind you!

  6. I'm standing up clapping here. You make me so proud to be a strong woman who stands up for what I believe in. I am honored to read your blog and be witness to your strength, fire, determination to stay true to who you are. That's what art really is. The true expression of self. And I celebrate the fact that you won't conpromise that just to get published. Stay true!!
    -- a quiet admirer of your work

  7. I agree with Rayna. How do textile artists particularly art quilters transcend into the art world as a serious medium if we are not allowed to be viewed in the same way?
    To think a gallery would not
    even take one of your pieces is shameful. The human body is art.

    I too would love to see your work and read about your techniques in any forum.

  8. It seems that you're in good company Annabel. Our quilt shows do
    exhibit nudes in quilts; not so sure about quilt magazines. I don't
    know if you are aware of Kathy Nida's quilt "One Paycheck"
    that caused a lot of controversy that was exhibited by the
    SAQA on Homelessness - Mancuso brothers - Mid Atlantic Quilt Fest.

    Quilter's Home magazine doesn't seem to be upset by nudes. Perhaps you should get in touch with them to show your lovely ladies!

  9. You need to get out of the "quilt" world! After I read your last rant on this subject, I decided to not even bother trying to submit my last large piece (a political semi-nude[she's wearing panties and high heels]) to any fiber related shows. But the first fine art show I submitted it to, it was juried into - and goes up next week.

    Don't bother with small minded people and let your ART be seen by the wider audience it deserves!

  10. These people must live on another planet, your work is stunning, it carries a message and is not indecent in any shape or form.

  11. Hi

    I agree with the fabulous Kit!! When i am doing safe little pieces I think of you and Kit with your 'edgy' (for want of a better word!) art. Because that is what we are all doing - making art. Ok so our technique of choice might be textile, but it's art. Look at it this way - they wouldn't even approach Tracy Emin so (to my mind) that puts you in the same class as Tracy Emin!

  12. If ever one was feeling down or battered by life, you ladies could always be relied on to rally round and lift the spirits. You've made such wonderful, positive, and encouraging comments, and I can only give you my heartfelt thanks x

    I love the way that the internet passes thoughts around like a wildfire loose in a log shop. I have been told today of two other instances of censorship on the same grounds. I'm not the only one using life as an inspiration, and no doubt, the more publicity that brings the issue to the fore the better. So thank you again for your support. :)

  13. Absolutely stunning work. Curious that Madonna thinks we all want to see HER naked. WRONG. Lack of substance is wearing on my patience. You're art is amazing. You need to find worthy judges. Well, better yet, perhaps they will find YOU! Disregard the rest. If I had the opportunity to stand there and read the quilting on your naked quilts I'm sure I would NOT pass up the grand opportunity. I suspect it is the age of the body that denies the quilts their due. That's like racism. It's ageism! If the model were young they would publish. The process alone is 1st place award winning. I'm near 60. Carry on!