- Anja Stenina, Interpretation of Gemma J. Howell’s poem Madame’s Menu,
Digital collage, 2023
Our main dishes this evening include:
Top-Choice Tori who is 24 and a perfect size 8.
With honeyed hair and baby-blue eyes,
she’s a High-class Escort and Glamour Model.
She has succulent breasts and curves
in all the right places with a busty 32C cup.
She is bronzed all over.
She’s a spicy, saucy, sexy lady
who loves to tease and aims to please.
Or, there is a second choice of Toni.
She’s getting on a bit at 32, and is a size 10.
With peroxide extensions, blue contact lenses,
she’s a cam-girl and cervical cancer survivor.
In a Wonderbra and tutu she models for favours.
Abused by her stepdad then evicted at 14,
she turned tricks to survive.
But, with a convincing wig and a painful smile
she’ll give the infamous Tori tit-wank
and say it was just for you.
For dessert we have the Naughty Nikita.
She’s only 18 and is a slim size 6.
With a tiny waist and a pert bust,
our Russian Princess has
hot-chocolate hair, full cherry lips
and sweet almond eyes.
She’s a student nurse and a high-class escort.
She’s a girl-next-door type.,
Who’ll give you a one-on-one full girlfriend experience.
Or perhaps you would rather a Natia.
She’s 19 and a pre-pubescent size 4.
Originally from Prague,
she worked the stag scene.
Arriving in Britain just one month ago
she finally escaped the grip of her pimp.
She has frizzy hair, sallow skin
and a Meth Amphetamine problem.
Poem by Gemma Howell, 2015
In her poem, Madame’s Menu, Gemma June Howell uses détournement as a
technique to deliver a critique. The poem appropriates the syntactic qualities of
idealised advertisement slogans and transforms them into visceral social images.
The poem subverts the mythologised idea of seduction into a story of
exploitation. The adult advertisement format is repeated in every stanza to
introduce the ‘product’. Every advertisement lists the qualities of escort women
while mixing them with gastronomic descriptions, stylistically mimicking
restaurant menu expressions. Every line is in the form of an advertisement,
which starts with the seductive descriptions of women. The description is
designed for the male gaze and gastronomic descriptions seamlessly interplay
with physical descriptions of sex workers.
Howell, G. J (et al) (2015), Hallelujah for 50ft Women, Poems about women’s
relationship to their bodies, Bloodaxe Books
- Gemma June Howell, Another Bun in the Oven, film, 2021
This film was prepared for The Frequency House Swansea Poetry Slam 2021.
Another Bun in the Oven
Another Bun in the Oven
A’rite? Nairmz Rhiannon,
an I leve on thuh Rock.
I luv drinken ciduh,
an I luv sucken cock.
I wanna bee yin college,
buh I go’ uh lickle kid.
An-uh crèche in college
aint tha fucken big.
My muvva wun elp me,
cuz I nict er tellee.
An my ole man iza preck.
Ee puncht er in th’bellee.
Nutz in skool, I wuz.
Chucken chairz un sellen fagz.
Expelled ut firteen, I wuz,
f’robbin uh teachuz bagz.
It wuz f’thuh best ough,
I wuz pregnunt wiv Levi,
Mist all uv my examz, I ded.
Tuh my life I sed g’bye.
My felluz shaggen round,
iss bin gor en ona wi-yul.
Iss bairbeez bout t’drop soon.
Weyull gor on Jeremee ki-yul.
Sor, I angah round uh shops,
tuh see oo eez shaggen.
All-uh boyz cum on tuh me,
finken I’m out slaggen!
My boobs uh fucken killin
An my belleez rock ard.
Bastad duzunt giva shit,
now eez wiv iz new tart.
Iz tha all wee-yuh werff?
Iz ent air more too wis yere life
un givin fuckin berff?
Wee-yuh fucken ewmuns yuh,
not pigs in fucken swill!
Howell, G. J (2023), Another Bun in the Oven, IN, Yer Ower Voices!: Dialect
poems in Welsh and English from Cymru by Mike Jenkins | WHSmith (no date)
’WHSmith. Available at: https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/yer-ower-voices-
Read more about Gemma’s poetry here:
Jamieson, A. (2015) ‘Launch of Rock Life: 17 Poems from the Welsh Valleys by
Gemma June Howell (Nos Da, Cardiff, 20/11/15)’, Sabotage, 13 December.
Available at: http://sabotagereviews.com/2015/12/13/launch-of-rock-life-17-
poems-by-gemma-june-howell-nos-da-cardiff-201115/ (Accessed: 8 October
- Claire Francis – Domestic heritage, installation, 2023
Table cloth, oil paint, pastel, pencil, embroidery. This work looks at knowledge
passed on in feminine spaces, arching back to the suffrage movement; plans for
change made over drinking tea. Hidden in femininity. Protected. Feminine
heritage. social boundaries and manifestations of experiential knowledge and
tangible / intangible heritage.
In her evocative body of work, artist Claire Francis explores the intersection of
knowledge, femininity, and the often-hidden aspects of heritage. Using a diverse
array of mediums, including oil paint, pastel, pencil and embroidery, Francis
delves into the rich tapestry of experiences and stories that have been passed
down within feminine spaces.
This body of work serves as a visual testament to the enduring legacy of
knowledge and wisdom that has been exchanged amongst women throughout
history. It harkens back to the suffrage movement, where women gathered over
tea, conceiving their plans for change in a society that often overlooked their
With a keen eye for the subtleties of social boundaries, Francis invites viewers to
contemplate the tangible and intangible manifestations of experiential knowledge.
The narrative unfurls as a mesmerising tapestry, revealing the resilience and
influence of women who have shaped society from the shadows. The artworks
themselves become a sanctuary, a place where the stories, memories, and
secrets of generations of women are safeguarded.
In a fascinating juxtaposition, the artist also alludes to the ancient practice of
ritual cave paintings, where knowledge and tradition were etched into both the
rock and time. This reference underscores the enduring nature of feminine
heritage, spanning across millennia and evokes a sense of continuity in the face
of changing social landscapes.
This collection of artworks invites us to look backwards in history, unveiling the
hidden layers of the feminine experience, offering a glimpse into the concealed
power of femininity and the transformative potential held within the gatherings,
where plans for change were woven into the fabric of society. Francis’ work
becomes a bridge between past and present, inviting us to reflect on the
enduring power of femininity and the transformative potential that resides within
the stories shared within the domestic space.
Claire Francis – Domestic Heritage, film, 2023
The film explores the passing on of the experiential knowledge.
The symbolism of the loss of water when pouring into the sieve, represents the
loss of wisdom and knowledge that is not recognised in official discourses.
In their film, the artist explores the profound theme of the transference of
knowledge within the context of domestic heritage, inviting viewers into the heart
of a family circle where individuals of different ages unite to partake in a ritual rich
in symbolism. At the core of this cinematic exploration lies the poignant subject of
passing on experiential knowledge, and the subtle yet profound symbolism of
water as a carrier of memory and wisdom.
The act of pouring water into the tea cup and over its walls, serves as a poignant
metaphor for the loss of wisdom and knowledge that frequently goes
unrecognised. In this intimate ritual, the audience witnesses the essence of
generational continuity. The sieve, a vessel bearing a rich cultural heritage,
becomes a vessel of both physical and metaphysical importance.
As the water flows into the sieve, it carries with it the collective memory of their
ancestors, the wisdom of past generations, and the experiences of those who
have walked the path before them. Water, as a symbol of memory retention,
encapsulates the essence of their shared history and the treasures of familial
heritage. It is in this unassuming act, within the intimate circle of family members,
that the passing on of memory takes place.
The film is a visual testament to the enduring power of familial bonds and the
value of preserving and transferring experiential knowledge from one generation
to the next. Through the symbolic act of pouring water into the sieve, the artist
acknowledges the profound importance of recognizing and cherishing the
wisdom that may not always find its place in official narratives.
In essence, their work serves as a tribute to the resilience of domestic heritage
and the beauty of the transference of knowledge within the family circle. It
reminds us that, like water, knowledge and memory flow through the generations,
connecting us to our roots and shaping our future.
- Anja Stenina, Mule Story Part III: Neither the time nor the place, film, 2023
The film shows a plasticine mule that dances to the chorus that says: Not here!
Not now! The plasticine figure represents a placeholder for every[wo]man, every
harmed knower. It is a figure that embodies epistemic pain.
The scene portrays the experiential world of a knower who cannot find the time
or place to contribute. The Mule is looking for the time and cannot find it, the
Mule is looking for the place and cannot find it. The mule figure is guided by the
motherly voice that repeats ‘Not here! Not now!’ in a patronising and controlling
manner. The Mule performs different expressions of searching, walking, lost,
crawling on its knees, etc. The Mule does not understand that the game is rigged
and what it should be looking for is not the time or the place, but authority and
intelligibility for her voice to be heard. The Mule embodies a discourse that did
not come to be, it portrays the speech or voice that is unintelligible and without
authority, it portrays a pathetic character in an absurd situation; misshapen and
under-sculpted. It portrays the interrupted or misinterpreted speech of the
marginalised. The Mule is distorted, alien, out of place and out of time. The song,
Not here! Not now!, dramatises the experiential time and place of the unknowing
of the marginalised knower. The viewer is invited to co-experience the loss of
epistemic agency together with the lost mule.
- Rufus Mufasa (with Angela Karadog Marion Cheung Rhian Anderson),
Swynwraig Denim Dwbl
Led by Rufus Mufasa and a team of textiles experts, using denim & fabrics
created a DENIM DWBL patchwork banner in preparation for the Hop-tŷ Denim
Dwbl parade happening in October 2023. Swynwraig is a partnership project
between Undercurrents (Arts in the Aber Valley community group, Caerphilly
County Borough Council and Addo).
“Through using mixed media & textiles we explored themes affecting women &
girls, looked for feminism in indigenous languages & celebrated mothers & artists
& set up ecosystems to empower & support professional development, wellbeing
& Welsh on new terms”. Rufus Mufasa
More on the project:
- Alina Skorohoda, Mental Load, film, 2018
In her work “Mental Load” Skorohoda delves deep into the realms of domesticity,
identity, gender, and the often overlooked yet burdensome concept of the mental
load that women carry.
At the center of the artwork stands a powerful protagonist, a woman, who strides
into the sea, bearing an oversized garden washing hanger. This seemingly
mundane object becomes a poignant symbol of domestic duties and
responsibilities that persist even in the context of a holiday. Through this
evocative scene, Skorohoda presents a stark commentary on the unrelenting
nature of the mental and emotional labour that women frequently shoulder.
As the protagonist walks into the sea, it can be interpreted as an act of existential
contemplation, a symbolic attempt to escape the ceaseless demands placed
upon her. The sea becomes a metaphorical space for release, a place where the
weight of societal expectations and the mental load can momentarily dissipate.
- Darren Cullen, Santa Gives More to Rich Kids Than Poor Kids
More | Spelling Mistakes Cost Lives // Darren Cullen
Student art attacks commercial spirit of Christmas | Students | The
Student’s anti-Santa poster scrapped | Students | The Guardian
“Britain hating anarchist who knows the value of nothing” – Tory MP Johnny
“”Artist”” – Daily Mail
Darren Cullen’s 2005 campaign to put an end to the commercialisation of
Christmas, launched an attack on the advertising industry’s targeting of children
via a billboard on Glasgow’s Balmore Road as part of a public art show ahead of
his degree show. The installation was almost scrapped as the original sign
company involved determined it to be too contentious.
“Santa Claus is a lie that teaches kids that products will make them happy.
Before they’re old enough to think for themselves, the story of Santa has already
got them hooked on consumerism. I think that’s more immoral than this
billboard,” said Mr Cullen, who spent four years studying advertising before
becoming disenchanted with the industry and switching to Glasgow School of
Art’s environmental art course.
“I think I’ll be characterised as a Scrooge but I see it as a serious issue. Children
have no intellectual self-defence against marketing and advertising and in that
way they are easy targets.”
“Today people are living far beyond their means, going into debt, buying things
they can’t afford, because they have this belief that any problem can be solved
and happiness can be achieved through the buying of products…”
“Now that, for the most part, is down to advertising, which manipulates people’s
desires and keeps them reliant on purchases for satisfaction.”
“But when those consumers were children, instead of Christmas being a
celebration of Jesus, who was quite a vocal opponent of materialism and,
therefore, a rubbish spokesman for Christmas – they were told about Santa Claus
and all the amazing shiny products he was going to bring them, all for free.”
- Anja Stenina, Mule Story Part I: Once Upon A Time, film, 2023, Mule Story
Part II: Once Upon A Time, film, 2023
The Mule Story takes the viewer on a journey into the depths of the social
unknowing. The story’s core idea is epistemic injustice, which means
undermining someone in their capacity as a knower. The main character is a
harmed knower. The main protagonist, The Mule, portrays the harmed knower as
a tragi-comical character.
The story follows the production line of mundane silencing. The designed social
location in the scenes is a fictional but familiar social interstice where social
communication and understanding break. To bring the viewer’s attention to
everyday manifestations of epistemic injustice, The Mule Story films parody
mundane situations that contain prescribed speech. The Mule vignettes attempt
to retrospectively zoom-in-on epistemic crimes. The film is a horror story of
vicious correspondence. Where myth and common sense are not what they
seem and the prevalence of prescribed speech and monologism in everyday
mundane interactions take on a sinister aspect. The work explores expressions
of fear, doubt and self-approving superiority in relation to the speaking position in
society. Marginalised identities often cannot be addressers of their Lived
Experience due to epistemic injustice. The Mule story trilogy portrays the Mule
experiencing pain that is inconceivable, or conceivable but indescribable, or
describable but uncommunicative, fictional but familiar. A place many of us have
inhabited, a shared ‘typical’ social interstice characterised by unknowing and
- Anja Stenina, Mundane Protest, sculpture, 2023
The sculpture in the shape of a speech bubble on the broomstick is designed for
dynamic social commentary and socially engaged practice. The surface of the
speech bubble works as a whiteboard and text can be easily erased and
replaced. The sculpture is dynamic, in the sense that it can change during the
exhibition if the author finds a better “phrase of the day”. The phrases on the
clouds attempt to capture mundane mythologies, the manifestations of the
everyday unknowing that we encounter in our daily lives. The texts are
expressions of the experientially uncomfortable and typical speech situations,
indignities and communicative obstacles we encounter on our mundane
- Post-it Notes project by Rakumancy Artist Triad, 2023
In this project, three artists Anja Stenina, Claire Francis and Esther Ley bring
together social commentary and sculpture. Esther Ley’s many years of expertise
in ceramics allowed this critical and, at the same time, playful creative endeavour
to take shape. The artist triad has collected people’s testimonies of the
uncomfortable commentary, feedback and statements regarding the art
profession, art practice, and art in general.
Whether it be unsolicited advice, harsh criticism, or societal assumptions about
art, these words and experiences are often hidden from the public eye. To reveal
the unspoken narratives and social assumptions that exist behind the scenes of
the art world, individuals were encouraged to share their experiences
The artist triad took great care in transferring the shared testimonials onto these
clay Post-it notes, ensuring that the original handwriting and expressions of the
contributors were preserved. This attention to detail adds a layer of authenticity
to the project, as each ceramic Post-it note becomes a unique representation of
the voices within the art community.The resulting collection of ceramic Post-it
notes serves as a mirror, reflecting back to the public the often-uncomfortable
truths and societal judgments that artists face regularly.
Map Stiwdio Griffith