Biography: Tamzin is a Manchester based, freelance multi-disciplined visual artist and creative wellbeing specialist, with over 20 years experience.
Tamzin Forster https://www.tamzinforster.co.uk/
Partner Housing Scheme
Trafford Housing Trust https://www.traffordhousingtrust.co.uk/
Tamzin Forster and Mary E Taylor - Scrapbook
With any project such as this I will try and put myself in someone’s shoes... Therefore this artwork speaks generally and personally, as of course I have been influenced my own perspective - my feelings, emotions and thoughts provoked during our discussions and throughout this project. Throughout the project I have considered how I might feel as a gay woman who could in theory move into a residential scheme within 13 years.
The piece of writing that you see on the right page of the photograph I wrote from the perspective of someone who shuns those that identify as LGBTQIA+.
The activity - that the piece of writing came from - was designed to emphasise the topics of identity, semantics, reclaiming and reframing language, the use of labels and being aware of assumptions and the heteronormative bias within our society, and the importance of self-identification. I discussed the term 'Queer' with Mary (the project participant), and they shared that ‘Queer' was a slur in their day, whereas for me I would choose it as a label for myself today.
The creative writing technique uses ‘sculpted’ or ‘found’ writing. For the creative guides I chose two texts for people to potentially use and created examples. The other piece of writing is much more defiant, liberating, and proud; compared with the one that I actually chose to work with here. The one I use, on its own could be perceived as cynical…
The text I sculpted from is from the fictional novel ‘The Well of Loneliness’, which was banned in 1928 due to ‘obscenity.’ It references a lesbian relationship twice; and as I write in 2021 it’s uplifting to know that 93 years later there are now books which give a much more open description of same-sex love without fear of reprisal. I chose a page at random. The piece of writing sculpted from the original ‘found’ words reflects a dismissive, dis-compassionate view of a made-up characters who perhaps gossip ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Why should I care?’ To the homophobic view along the lines of ‘let her live-in discomfort and shame’… with the belief that ‘After all she has the plague.’ Regardless of whether these people exist or not in an individual’s community/home environment such as a residential scheme, this character can exist in someone’s fears, and be a barrier to ‘belonging’ - that sense of being fully accepted for who you are. This holding back can have a profound effect on a person.
I’ve always found the idea of a ‘closet’ a curious one. I understand it conveys a conflicting idea of ‘coming out’ to that of having ‘skeleton’s in the closet.’ I like it as a metaphor…imagining climbing in and out of the closet? So tedious. People who identify as LGBTQIA+ often find themselves making a daily choice to ‘come out or not’ when someone unknowingly makes the assumption that they are ‘straight’; or as an example amongst many, attempts to satisfy their curiosity and pushes for someone to ‘out themselves.’ I liken this more to being under an archway, something that (has potential) to loom over you and can cast a shadow. Under which your thoughts can lurk between ‘what are the consequences to me coming out?’ ‘Does it create a situation where I am pushed into a negative situation (‘darkness’) due to someone’s reaction; or will it relinquish that weight of uncertainty and allow me to step more fully into myself and bask in the sunshine?’ You may or may not notice the rainbow light falling from the right-hand corner to the archway (CD and torch and a necessity for a third arm!).
Tamzin Forster response
This rainbow also for me represents the hope that pervaded for me as I spoke to Mary as ‘an ally.’ That were I to move into a housing scheme I might have a supporter. And a hope that other people in residential schemes at this moment in time feel accepted by their allies. The butterflies also convey this hope - a symbol in art of endurance, evolution and therefore change, hope and life.
You might notice the use of colours and words on the butterflies; cut out of delightful paint swatches with the wonderful names that I created with Mary in our sessions. We chatted about the symbolic meaning of colours, and how they can also influence mood. Mary also created a wonderful mood board and a found poem on the theme of ‘comfort’ with them', and we talked about how the word comfort comes from the Latin word 'confortare' - ‘to strengthen’. I believe hope and endurance builds strength. I used a warm coloured light to embody this.
The purple flower is a nod to the poet Sappho, and the adoption of the pansy/violet in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Mary and I spoke at length as to how fear, ignorance, and lack of exposure to ‘diversity’ can be the foundation of non-acceptance of someone else’s gender or sexual identity. We agreed that alongside compassion and empathy, education and open-mindedness was key to a wider acceptance of ‘different.’ The choice of the open book attempts to symbolise knowledge and an open-ness.