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The artists raising money to fight period poverty

Artists and Irise International are coming together for the first Art for Action, a creative fundraiser to support basic female healthcare

By Moya Marshall

From the 1st - 15th June, charity Irise International are launching their first ever Art for Action, a creative fundraiser organised to support vulnerable girls in the UK and East Africa access basic female healthcare. Founded in 2011 and envisioning “a world where everyone can realise their potential, unlimited by their periods,” Irise has become a global voice in the call to arms to break taboos surrounding menstruation and eliminating period poverty.

The fundraiser will take the form of a raffle, where you’ll be able to buy tickets on the work/s of art you want and you can purchase as many tickets as you like in order to increase your chances. Even more excitingly, tickets are affordable – you can purchase them at just £3.

Just £10 ensures a girl in the UK receives an emergency menstrual hygiene and information pack, and £5 provides the same for a girl in Uganda. This means that even one donation can really make a difference to vulnerable women, whilst potentially getting your hands on some incredible art.

Here’s a selection of some of the pieces you’ll be able to buy a ticket for, along with an insight into the wonderful artists behind them.

Tiff Chan

Arty Catalyste (Tiff Chan / KyoKaruna) is a Hong Kong-born multidisciplinary artist. Along with collaborator Shawn P. Griffin, she won two prizes at the Hong Kong Human Rights Art Prize Awards 2014 – one of them, Bless The Souls That Made Our Clothes being her submission for the Irise Art Fundraiser. At the heart of all the different applications of her work is the theme ‘creative human potential’, and what the arts can offer in therapeutic discovery, healing, and for reaching new frontiers of awareness, consciousness, and experience.

An intermodal expressive arts therapist, a graduate from the University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art, and pioneer of using art to help communities and generate empathy, each piece of Tiff’s work carries a story and compassion behind it.

Courtesy of Tiff Chan

Sadie Chandler

Sadie Chandler describes her work: “I am a female artist from the north of England. I am passionate about feminism – and therefore helping vulnerable women and girls – and equality between all classes. My art tends to reflect these things, as well as my experiences as a disabled person and lesbian.”

Sadie volunteers her talents at Irise as a graphic designer, and has recently designed both their Coronavirus emergency appeal logo and also produced designs for the launch of Irise’s new EmpowHER period podcast.

Using acrylic, watercolour, ink, and digital Sadie’s skill straddles a range of mediums. Her piece for Irise acknowledges our current health crisis and will use its colours to convey how menstruation is a natural process that affects women of every single race, nation, and background, as she says: Unity is always something we need, but especially in times like these.”

Courtesy of Sadie Chandler

Nicole Chui

Nicole Chui, also known as ‘thatsewnicole’, is a 24 year old Hong Kong born, London based embroidery artist. Her body of work consists of original hand embroidered photographs and illustration pieces with portraiture.

Nicole describes her work as: “It’s messy, brash and disruptive. Generally, it’s a loud and humorous take on expressing exaggerated emotions from raging anger to feeling overjoyed.”

Nicole’s impressive roster includes Nike, Converse, Gal-dem, Now Gallery, and the BBC. She has been featured in the Evening Standard as one of the individuals shortlisted as ‘25 future faces 25 and under’ in the Progress 1000 list. Nicole has also submitted two pieces for the fundraiser.

Courtesy of Nicole Chui

Nilupa Yasmin

Birmingham born mixed-media artist Nilupa Yasmin draws on her experiences as a British-Bangladeshi Muslim woman to create pieces which hold an exploration of self-identity, along with cultural and anthropological meanings. Having graduated from university in just 2017, Yasmin has already hosted six solo exhibitions, participated in 11 group exhibits and is a part time lecturer at her alma mater, the University of Coventry. Expertly blending the arts of both photography and weaving, her piece is part of her 2018 exhibition ‘A Walk Through Aston’.

Courtesy of Nilupa Yasmin

Eliza Williams

Eliza Williams (aka Doolittle illustrations) is an artist and multidisciplinary creative based in Melbourne. If you cast your eyes across her website you'll be struck instantly by her versatility.

Eliza describes her art: “My work combines digital and traditional mediums, showing an illustrative view of the relationships between people and nature. Empowering people and showing life through my eyes.”

Courtesy of Eliza Williams

Francesca de Bassa and Helene Dedieu

Artists Francesca de Bassa and Helene Dedieu are collaborating together to produce their piece for the fundraiser. Francesca, who says she has “been in love with art her whole life”, is another multidisciplinary extraordinaire, skilled at illustration, animation, filmmaking, and design. Helene is a visual designer who has launched Abordaje as a platform to explore embroidery. She makes hand embroidered illustrations and jewellery which she gives a light-hearted and simplistic touch.

Courtesy of Francesca de Bassa and Helene Dedieu

Melissa Asante

Melissa is a digital collage artist whose collages reflect the musings of everyday life, and challenges the mundane in an “almost surreal” way, as described by the artist. The piece she is donating is named Fetching Water, part of a collection that follows the story of a cactus. The cactus in Fetching Water represents women that are able to survive in harsh environments, just like most cacti species. It explores the process of having to collect water to survive, with the abstract lines representing sand, water, and the sun.

Courtesy of Melissa Asante

Tamsin Fox

Tamsin Fox is a 23-year-old student and art enthusiast, who’s painting and drawing has been a passionate outlet from a very young age. Her work focuses on human form, taking inspiration from life drawing classes and photographers she admires.

Tamsin describes her work: “I am a proud woman of colour and am especially keen to show the beauty of diversity in my subjects.” On the piece Tamsin submitted for the fundraiser, she said: “The original photograph for this piece has an ethereal feel to it and I wanted to translate that in the painting by keeping the strokes very loose. It was done with a combination of brush work and spreading paint with pieces of card.”

Courtesy of Tamsin Fox

Isabella Newton

Isabella Newton’s relationship with Irise has gone back for over two years, where she has worked closely with their advocacy network. Recently Isabella’s work with the organisation has focused on the ways in which menstrual stigma and shame contribute to the broader stigmatisation and censorship of womxn’s bodies. She believes that art is a powerful mode of expression through which we can address these issues, and can be incredibly emancipating for both the artist and those who view/experience their work.

Isabella describes her style as “generally sketchy, imperfect, expressionist and sometimes abstract. Mostly I use charcoal, pastels, and pencil, creating pieces that represent the strength, beauty and diversity of the female body.”

Courtesy of the Isabella Newton

Check out Art for Action from the 1st to 15th June.

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