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  • Writer's picturehannah brailsford

Metal Southend - Artist in Residence

September is well and truly upon us and the hint of Autumnal days are whispering in the leaves that still adorn the trees and it feels like the perfect time to be starting this new project. I feel very grateful to Metal Southend to be enabling me to take the first steps in, what I hope to be, a greater period of research and development for a new piece of performance work in 2024.

So what's it all about?

With 'On Pause' I will be exploring the experiences and perspectives of women artists in and around their forties and beyond, particularly during their (peri)menopausal journey, and how this can affect and change experiences as an artist. As a woman and an artist in my forties I want to shed light on the complexities of identity and visibility during this transitional phase of womanhood and how this impacts creativity.

Why Now?

The obvious answer is, having reached this period in my own life, the subject has become more pertinent, more pressing to explore. Of course this is part of my motivation, but for sometime now, even before I became aware of my peri-menopausal journey, I have noticed a shift in the type of work and themes that I'm drawn to. Initially, I thought part of this shift was due to the 'Covid years' and their continuing legacy, but I now realise this just afforded me the time to be more reflective. The shift has been far more gradual and emerging from the moment I turned forty and it is only now I feel ready to fully embrace what this means for my own artistic practice.

Of course, over recent years, there has been a push to talk more about the menopause, with many celebrity names and experts leading the way in establishing a dialogue to make visible this important phase in women's lives that, for so long, has been ignored or veiled as a 'taboo' subject; to be experienced alone and not discussed. They of course are not the first to try and breakdown these barriers, but in an age driven by media and instant access to a huge digital audience, celebrity clout certainly adds weight to the cause. These discussions around menopause and the physical and emotional experiences highlighted are so important and I want to focus on how we navigate and explore our place as creatives in the conversation.

To make this a rich discussion, I want to connect with other creatives to build upon my own research. So, if you’re an identifying woman and artist and find yourself navigating these same questions, please do participate in my short anonymous survey:

I'm also aware that some transgender men, non-binary, intersex or people with variations in sex characteristics may also experience menopause and is another conversation I hope to include as the project develops. These are very much the first steps and I will continue to document the journey as I travel along the path.

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