The Block

Insights — 8 months ago

15 Women of the DIY Generation

In celebration of International Women’s Day we’ve selected 15 women who are using creativity and collaboration as vehicles through which to challenge the political and cultural agendas that are crying out for positive change. Each driven by a DIY mentality, these are the female artists, designers, publishers and activists who are making a difference one zine, exhibition and initiative at a time – whether that’s through fair representation, inclusivity, alternative education, or by connecting women within a safe space. Here are the names you need to familiarise yourself with for the year, and years, ahead.

Words
Brooke McCord
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Image courtesy of @recipesforselflove

Antonia Marsh

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Curator, writer and photographer Antonia Marsh is best known for her community-centric exhibitions and residency programmes that address misrepresentation within the art world, while feeling her personal desire to hear artists discuss their work. While Girls Only strived to better represent female artists from London to Mumbai, her latest feat – Soft Opening – sees Marsh take over a shop window style gallery space in Piccadilly Circus tube station for three years, in order to order to deconstruct and challenge preconceived notions of what an art space actually is. Matt Hivers’ three-channel installation Whistling In The Dark is currently on display.

Amika George

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At the age of just 18, Amika George is the brain behind the #FreePeriods movement. It was upon finding out that many young women in the UK are unable to afford vital sanitary items last spring, that George took things into her own hands – before staging a protest in December – willing Teresa May to provide free supplies for girls who are on free school meals. Since then her Pink Protest campaign has garnered national attention and George has been keeping up the momentum by hosting talks and events.

Abondance

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Writer, poet and spoken word artist Abondance Matanda knows has a real way with words. Drawing on her own personal experience and observations, she pens poetry in colloquial English to better represent society’s unheard voices. She’s also self-published three hand-bound collections of her own work – born from her interest in the 1970’s DIY punk – that explore her stance as a young black woman growing up in London: Destructive Disruptive, Da Poetry of My Existence ad Bare Fucker1es.

Sukeban Zine

Drawing it’s name from Japan’s delinquent girl gangs, Erika Bowes and Yuki Haze‘s Sukeban is the online creative platform and zine that’s on a mission to represent those misrepresented in fashion. Having struck lucky with their Instagram-turned-IRL relationship, the London-based duo bonded over their mutual distaste for the fashion industry’s lack of diversity and equality. Now, they’re hell-bent on challenging media stereotypes via their Sukeban platform, that prides itself on being a space in which women from all creative fields and ethnicities can connect.

Typical Girls

Jamila Prowse, Chani Wisdom and Celiya Koster profile independent, inspiring women via their Brighton-based self-published zine Typical Girls, while seeking to positively represent them within the media space. Their most recent issue explores cross-generational influence and those featured include Women Who founder Otegha Uwagba, Art Hoe Collective’s founder Gabrielle Richardson and Viv Albertine of The Slits amongst a host of others. For a who’s who of today’s most influential and inspiring women with something to say, look to Typical Girls.

Eliza Hatch

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Eliza Hatch is the London-based film photographer using her creativity as a vehicle through which to explore how society normalises sexual harassment. Her photojournalism series Cheer Up Love, sees Hatch interview each woman before photographing them in a setting that relates to their experience. Through the project, Hatch aims to question why women have come to accept that being told to “cheer up”, to crack a smile, or being heckled by men on the way to work, or school, is considered to be a “normal” thing.

Tasha Bishop

Tasha Bishop is the 20-year-old founder of The Pants Project, an underwear label that aims to raise awareness of and support young girls with fertility issues, while donating profits to Britain’s leading infertility charity, Fertility Network UK. It was following Bishop’s personal experience – being diagnosed with life-altering medical condition Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome – that the project was born, with the aim to tackle the stigma surrounding female infertility.

The Skate Kitchen

The Skate Kitchen is New York’s female-first skateboarding collective, born from a mutual desire to champion racial diversity and inclusivity within the sport, while busting the white west coast skater boy stereotype. It’s the crew’s strong stance and inspiring ethos that got them noticed by director Crystal Moselle, who then featured the group as the stars of her semi-autobiographical short film, That One Day. When The Skate Kitchen aren’t doing their upmost to promote gender equality within the world of skateboarding, they can be found vlogging on their new YouTube channel.

Eileen Kelly

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When it comes to activism within the field of sexual health, Eileen Kelly – aka Killer and a Sweet Thang – is paving the way with her 21st century rework of “The Talk”. With over 400k followers, her personal Instagram and online platform explore and offer advice about sexual health in a digital age, while her IRL events in New York cover everything from modern-day planned parenthood, to self-defence. She’s also launching Pull Out in March, a zine that’s set to examine how the effect social media has on our sex life and relationships.

Recipes for Self Love

Follow Recipes for Self Love – a digital illustrated zine by artist Alison Rachel – on Instagram to intersperse your perfection-saturated feed with the much needed positive affirmations that will keep you sane. Aside from her feel-good mantras, Rachel’s pastel-hued intersectional illustrations aim to cut through the sexist, racist and LGBT-phobic realities of today’s mainstream media.

Meg Doherty

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Meg Doherty is the founder of charity-cum-business Fat Macy’s – a social enterprise that trains and supports young Londoners who are struggling to acquire a home. By putting on pop-up supper clubs run by volunteer chefs, Doherty is able to use the profits to create a housing deposit scheme for those involved, that is paid direct to the landlord when the individual has a tenancy agreement and an employment contract secured. Aside from the savings potential, the initiative strives to provide transferable food and financial skills.

Girls in Film

With events spanning Prague, New York, London and Johannesburg, Girls In Film is a female-first network for a new generation of visual artists. Striving to represent, champion and connect female-identifying creatives, Women In Film is challenging gender bias within the film industry while creating a safety space for conversation and collaboration. Head to their Instagram for daily inspiration, whether that’s a BTS shot of Karena Evans shooting and directing the video for Drake’s “God’s Plan”, or a notable archive moment shared via their #femalefilmmakerfriday tag.

Sophia Tassew

Having recently hosted Riot! Riot! Riot! – an exhibition focussing on on intersectional feminism, culture, sexuality and freedom – 20-year-old visual artist and curator Sophia Tassew is on a mission to shake things up. Fighting against the white, cis, male dominated reality of the art world, Tassew selected women of colour – Rene Matic, Joy Miessi and Hannah Hil – to show their work that explored the themes of protest, sexuality and femininity in a bid to position inclusivity at the top of the art agenda.

Alex Hackett

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Alex Hackett is the designer behind experimental menswear label ALCH. While ALCH explores the art of deconstruction, Hackett’s side-line sees her unpick Nike’s non-traditional fabricated pieces in order to craft one-of-a-kind bootleg reworks that send many Swoosh fanatics into a frenzy. Each rarity is showcased via her @miniswoosh Instagram handle, which is arguably Nike’s most creative fan account.

Liv Little

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Liv Little is a writer, presenter and founder of award-winning magazine and collective gal-dem – a publication by women of colour and non-binary people that champions ethically diverse narratives spanning everything from politics to self-care. When Little’s not working on gal-dem, she can be found hosting and speaking on panel talks covering today’s most pressing topics, producing her own audio documentaries – see @empathymuseum’s A Mile in My Shoes – or presenting Channel 4’s news.

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