Practice-Based: Beauty Cultures, Fragmentation & Collage

“Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.”

John Berger

“My work explores how the beauty/fashion and porn industries use imagery to sustain control over women by normalising body objectification and societal expectations of how women should present themselves. I use paint, collage and fabric work, to highlight the damaging effects these industries have on women’s mental and physical health. Within my work I explore the sinister and alluring nature of this imagery by creating new, monstrous characters…

I create my work directly from fashion/beauty magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vogue and pornographic magazines like Penthouse. Making collage allows the use of fragmentation which echoes the principle behind my work, the breaking down of patriarchal control these images have over women. It allows me to fragment then rebuild, turning widely seen pristine imagery into warped, nightmarish monsters. I prefer to use a tangible method of making; physically cutting and sticking my collages into a sketchbook before scanning them into the computer and photoshopping them to become more vibrant and visibly fake.

I go on to paint in acrylic from my collages, creating larger than life size, doll like characters in heightened detail. Painting enables me to change and augment aspects of the collages in a gestural manner. It also gives the images an alluring quality which contrasts with the sinister nature of the content. My use of acrylic means my characters remain flat on the canvas, emphasising their two dimensionality and referring back to their source material.

For my fabric works, I use a heat press to imprint my collages onto soft pink fabric. I proceed to fold and scrunch the fabric they are printed on, juxtaposing the sensual look of the fabric with the deformed nature of the collages. 

The play between the sinister and the alluring underpins my work, drawing attention to the motives of the imagery I use, which consciously or subconsciously is to maintain control over women. The power of this imagery is in it’s seduction; we long and are expected to be the unattainable woman and this failure to be her then manifests itself through a toxic self-deprecation”

Art by Izzie Beirne.

Beirne is a 22 year old Newcastle based artist who recently graduated from Leeds Arts University with a BA First Class Honours. She is currently making new work for an exhibition at The Bowery Gallery  in Leeds 7th December 2019- 24th of January 2020. 

You can find her on Instagram at @izziebeirneart