‘Girlie’ was a solo show of paintings in October-November 2008 that commented on the idea of the girlie in popular culture. Historically, the term referred to early pornographic magazines. Contemporary usage of the term is employed by advertisers and is aimed at selling products that sexualise pre-pubescent girls. This exhibition was an attempt to explore the paradoxes that issue from the popular conflation of these two ideas.
References to fairy queens, princesses, girlie tattoos, cuddly toys, playboy bunnies and slogans from girlie T-shirts are juxtaposed with patronising and derogatory labels such as bitch, whore, tart, slut etc., so as to draw attention to the persistence of hypocritical moral judgements of women. Not only are these judgements inconsistent with the egalitarian ideals implicit in our democracy but also they endorse distorted conceptions of the boundaries between women and children’s sexuality.
At a more formal level, the paintings were intentionally constructed to evoke standard prejudices of painting. That is, the medium of painting is often regarded with disdain and/or is seen as a quaint activity pursued by women (evidence of which can be seen in a review of the show in Art Review, issue no. 29, Jan-Feb, 2009). I wanted to play with these common attitudes by setting up the viewer to assume that the work fits seamlessly with these prejudices. Indeed, I wanted to mock those in the art-world who have little ability or interest in looking at art that is not presented in conventional modes.