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Bethany Knowles

 Bethany Knowles 2020 BA (Hons) Fine Art graduate, Wolverhampton School of Art, University of Wolverhampton

Title of Piece: Investigating Concerns associated with the abjection of the female body.


I have been investigating concerns associated with the abjection of the female body. I reflected on the disgust society shows women who cross borders between the natural woman who bleeds and the culturally constructed feminine woman who hides that she menstruates and has a body that is malleable.

I aim for my work to recollect memories of childhood play such as when children play with food. This relates to notions of escapism from expectations persistently directed at women. The idea of play is important to my practice. Play is often used to create safe spaces such as a dolls house or a cardboard box that can be utilized as an escape. Extreme dieting can be understood as a safe and protective escape from the pressures, anxieties, and expectations of how to perform your gender correctly as a woman. Excessive weight loss can eventually cause a woman’s body to stop menstruating and physically become childlike, consequently in a way she can escape womanhood. 

I’m concerned with the ways that many women’s extreme restriction of food and calorie intake, obsessive control of weight, anorexia, and bulimia can be at once both safe and unsafe. I used pop up children’s playhouses to explore these notions. I combined the playhouses with cleaning cloths, sanitary pads, red napkins, food diaries and red tinsel.

My Experience:

When the studios closed, I continued my practice at home which meant I needed to adjust the way I was working. This was beneficial to the development of my final pieces since I’ve been able to begin new pieces.

My plans now are to do a masters and not die of Covid.

During the course I really liked the Venice trip to the biennale, as well as the exhibition at the end of the second year.