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A Night Celebrating ‘YES!’ - A BRUSHWRK Exhibition

Last Thursday, on the eve of International Women’s Day, we once again opened the doors of Yorkton Workshops to celebrate the work of five artists from the BRUSHWRK community whose work reflects love, sex and consent from the perspective of a positive ‘YES!’. 

Artists, friends and art lovers came together for an evening of new connections, drinks, music and discussion on each of the exhibiting artists, Shania Nurein, Samantha Monk, Kimberly Hang, Hannah Hopgood and Natalie Ornstin.

Our Curator, Georgie Seymour, breaks down her thought process behind the evening: “The inspiration for the exhibition came from the Dutch Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale, titled ‘when the body says yes’. In a church covered with pink cushions and drapery was a video installation exploring intimacy and consensual touch. I thought it was so cool to be discussing love and sex in a church setting, obviously challenging religious attitudes towards the subject. It felt progressive and exciting. And the room was so cosy and soft and welcoming, telling us everyone is invited to this conversation. We laid down and watched people covered in Vaseline slip sliding over one another. 

I’ve always been kind of progressive when it comes to conversations around sex. That’s come from being over-sexualised growing up and really feeling from a young age the injustices that come with that. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Fuck that! There’s nothing I hate more than double standards as well. I’ve been impassioned on this topic because of my experiences. I could go on and on about it.

Collectively we are still pretty conservative when it comes to sex in this country. It doesn’t help anyone. I don’t think it does much else but attach a load of shame and guilt to sexuality. I wanted to push this to the side and put on an exhibition that really lays it all bare. One that’s bold and bright and brave and says I'm not ashamed. Hence the title ‘YES!’. It’s strong. 

In the same way that I don’t think we should only teach prevention in sex-ed in schools (how not to get pregnant, how not to get an std), I don’t think the entire narrative around consent should be how to say no. 

That’s not to say that it’s not for good reason that we’ve really seen a push for teaching people to know and respect their own and others’ boundaries. It’s ridiculous that some people still don’t know what ‘no’ means. I look back at some of my teenage experiences… Why did I have to say I was on my period when I didn't want to have sex, because the guy wouldn’t take no for an answer? Why did I lie about having a boyfriend, or pretend that literally whoever was stood next to me was my partner, just to get the random guy chatting me up to fuck off because they aren’t hearing the ‘no’ I was so clearly spelling out of them?

Especially when I realised that the exhibition was going to be on the same day Sarah Everard had been kidnapped and murdered, I felt conflicted to be celebrating sex when it can be the cause of one hell of a lot of pain. Sexual violence is prolific. With international women’s day the following day, and Mother’s Day a few days later, I’ve been really deeping the female experience. And it gets me down, can’t lie. 

But nonetheless, I don’t want to be beaten by that. I do still think there is space to focus on what to do, as well as what not to do.

When it’s done right, it is something to celebrate. When people come together and are on the same page and are able to safely explore something so exciting, it’s great! Sex is great. Love is great. Hearing someone give you a positive YES! is great.”

We spoke to two of our incredible exhibiting artists, Sam Monk and Hannah Hopgood, to learn more about their work’s relationship to ‘YES!’:

Hannah: “Through an academic research project entitled “femme fatale”, I formed a series of body scans using scanography as my chosen medium. Within this series, the narrative behind lingerie as a  symbolic object was explored. Exploring the narrative’s shift in lingerie being a symbol of oppression to a symbol of liberation and regaining sexual power rather than it just being projected upon the subject. Exploring what it is to explore sex from an ideal set by society in which some people may feel trapped to obtain a certain image of what it is to be sexy to then using this sexual power for themselves and reclaiming what lingerie might mean to them. This piece is about regain sexual power, the consent of one’s body to re harness the loving relationship of one’s self image.”

Sam: “I feel the ideas of love and consent find their way into my work, through the sense of self love and acceptance that I try to evoke in each piece. I hope to create a space where bodies can just be. Where there is no expectation or objectification. 

It’s important to me to include all kinds of bodies in my work, promoting the idea of being comfortable in one’s body”

If you want to be in the know on our next exhibition, including artist call-outs and early bird tickets, follow our Instagram for updates a click here to purchase prints of this exhibition’s artwork! 


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