Zoe Cox – BA (Hons) Illustration and Animation
As displayed in the exhibition ‘Be The Banana Skin (on the patriarchy complacent stroll)’ at Blott Gallery.
Originally commissioned for the Blackpool Advocacy’s Domestic Violence Advisory service as part of a series of paper origami themed illustrations.
My aim has been to convey the sense of isolation and danger experienced by women trapped in domestic abuse situations, but offer a sense of hope of freedom if the precarious path winding down the rock is taken.
The fragility of the paper house offers the illusion of temporary security against the sharp, dark eroding rocks, symbolising the egg-shell like ‘comfort zone’ staying in an abusive relationship maintains, and the unavoidable risk that must be taken to escape it. The most dangerous time for a woman escaping domestic abuse is right after she leaves.
However, the winding path down the rock face is lined with daffodils, which in floriography represent hope, motherhood and new beginnings, leading to the idyllically serene sea and sky.
“Unknowing, a drawing in paint and charcoal, represents the intersectional challenges experienced by women and girls with social or communication disabilities such as autism or deafness. In a culture that relies on knowing the unwritten rituals and rules around courting and relationships, being unable to read or understand ‘signals’ read between the lines or sense danger can add an extra layer of vulnerability to being female.
This can be further compounded for girls or women who do not have a support group of other females to learn from or stick with for safety. Women are told to have ‘common sense’ when it comes to keeping ourselves safe from men who wish to attack us, and those of us who do not display this ‘common sense’ are victim-blamed further if we are attacked for our own naivety or ‘putting ourselves in risky situations’.
In ‘Boys Toys’ I confront the objectification, male entitlement, and control of the female body by juxtaposing it with the iconic, blue children’s toy – one that is unnecessarily gendered towards little boys. The female figure stares mannequin-like out of the painting showing no personality or self-ownership, offering the toy as she offers herself.
The nude female form is instantly sexualised by our society, which when contrasted against the innocent and nostalgic symbol of boyhood, generates discomfort as we are forced to compare the human to the object.