Content Warning: As the title suggests, this post is full of references to AFAB (assigned female at birth) genitalia.
The desire to refer to Eloise White’s ceramic… pieces as ‘vaginas’ is incredibly strong. Yes, they are pieces of fruit with female genitalia growing out of them… but ‘vagina’ is the wrong word. These are ceramic vulvas.
The piece above, ‘Banana Split’ clearly shows the folded lips of the labia, the clitoral hood and the opening of the vagina. But I am so used to seeing female genitalia in feminist art referred to casually and in the media as ‘vaginas’ that I keep needing to remind myself of the correct terminology.
Eloise, 22, is a third year exchange student from Sydney, temporarily studying at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) in Dundee. She has been taking advantage of DJCAD’s emphasis on concepts and expression – rather than craftsmanship – to experiment with ceramics. And, she calls them vaginas too, saying, “When you see the work, there’s no taking away the vagina. Everything has a vagina in it.”
As inspiration, Eloise cites Jamie McCartney’s ‘Great Wall of Vagina’; a piece from 2011 that features plaster casts of the vulvas of 400 volunteers. Her pieces are also reminiscent of ‘The Dinner Party’ by Judy Chicago from 1979, which is currently housed in Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art in the Brooklyn Museum in the USA. That textbook feminist artwork features hand-painted ceramic and china vulvas attributed to women who Chicago considered to have historical importance.
Eloise will have a degree show back at the Australian National University in November 2016, before graduating a few months later with joint honours in Commerce and Fine Art, with a specialisation in etching.
Let’s hope she continues sticking vulvas on pieces of ceramic fruit. And let’s also hope both she and I can be more accurate when describing the female genital anatomy.
Vulva. On a banana.
Words: Ana Hine
Images: Eloise White (photographed by Ana Hine)
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