Art of Woman

Unleash Your Creativity

It is with great excitement that I invite my followers in London to an exciting workshop hosted by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, at the Awareness Centre in Clapham. Alexandra Pope is a co-author of the well known book, The Pill: Are You Sure It’s For You? (Allen and Unwin, 2008) and author of The Wild Genie: The Healing Power of Menstruation, (Sally Milner 2001). This workshop is designed to tap into women’s deep creativity through intimate body awareness. Women’s Quest describe the innovative workshop as follows:

you will learn about the 4 key stages of the creative process and how they are intimately linked with the inner seasons of your cycle.With this understanding, you can: • Discover your secret time for accessing ideas, inspirations and visions • Find a natural motivation and finally give procrastination the boot • And learn about the vital role of the inner critic, and how to harness its power to serve rather than destroy what you are doing

I fully support my photos being used to enhance this workshop for women's creativity. My photos explore different meanings and symbolism associated with menstruation. I have used my own experience, the experiences of friends and relatives and learnt from myths and the images generated by the language women use for the body and slang euphemisms. My photography suits this workshop very well.

Unleash Your Creativity Workshop: 10am-6pm, Sat 29th Sept 2012
Where: The Awareness Centre, 41 Abbeville Rd, Clapham, SW4 9JX www.theawarenesscentre.com
Cost: £85/£50 (students) For concession please apply
For more info: Phone: 07974388973 or info@womensquest.org
The photos will be hanging in the Awareness Centre after the workshop until the end of November.
Women's Quest News 2012 Unleashing Your Creativity

Marriage is a Miracle Cure!

The Canberra Times published an article from The Independent about the effect of marriage on cancer patients on Saturday 8 September 2012. Marriage is shown to improve the three year survival rate of cancer patients by threefold. “If marriage were a drug, it would be hailed as miracle cure.” says The Independent. Caner patients within a marriage had significantly greater chance of survival than single patients. The study followed 168 cancer patients over a decade of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Survival after three years was 33% for married patients compared to 10% survival after three years for single patients.

Married women cancer patients fared best with 46% increased survival while married men had 25% increased survival rate. Single men fared the worst with only 3% increased survival rate. So marriage is very beneficial.

I have often wondered why so many men (and some independent women) make such a fuss about getting married, as if they are being coerced or cajoled somehow. Marriage has suffered from a lot of disrespectful jokes and these affect people’s attitude and willingness to commit to marriage.

The study does not consider why marriage gives such a large benefit. Cancer treatment requires a lot of complex treatments, medicines and frequent trips to the doctor or clinic. The treatments and medical investigations often involve stressful and time consuming procedures. A spouse is a great asset to make sure that all appointments are attended, medicines taken as prescribed and complex procedures and followed correctly. I agree that social and practical support is an important factor in assisting ill people regain health.

While it was good to see an article that shows the benefits of marriage for a change, I would have liked a study that included the affection level of the marriage. I have a theory that marriage confers more benefits than simply the mechanics of appointments and medicines. Being in a significant relationship can give a spouse an extra reason to live. Being married can, quite literally, make life worth living.

Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis Information Night

Melissa Parker speaking about endometriosis. She used my photographs to engage the audience.
Melissa Parker speaking about endometriosis

On 30May I was invited to display some of my exhibition quality photographs at an endometriosis information evening. The evening was hosted by the Canberra Endometriosis Centre which is dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and management of endometriosis. Many women, from teens to mature women, suffer terribly from endometriosis. Symptoms include severe pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, fertility problems and general ill health. These symptoms disrupt girls’ schooling and cause affected women to take time off work. As a result of these symptoms, endometriosis can put immense stress on relationships; both personal and work relationships. It is a poorly understood disorder and many women suffer for years before diagnosis and effective treatment is implemented.

Guest speaker was Dr Susan Evans from Adelaide. She is a Gynaecologist and Advanced Laporoscope Surgeon who specialises in managing endometriosis and pelvic pain. She has authored several books including Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain (which was available to buy), the e-book Pelvic Pain and The Pelvic Pain Report.

I have a deep compassion for this often hidden suffering and I use my art to promote awareness and to fundraise. Modern medical techniques have progressed and many endometriosis sufferers can be treated. There is no reason for women to suffer for years without treatment.

Endometriosis night was well attended with standing room only in the auditorium. Many aspects of endometriosis were discussed. Melissa Parker (RN RM MNurs, endometriosis coordinator and researcher) from Canberra Endometriosis Centre, used some of my photos, with my permission, in her presentation. They were a contrast to the usual laparoscopy images and clinical diagrams.

It is exciting to see that my photos communicate so effectively. My display in the lobby slowed attendees down. Before and after the formal presentations, the attendees enjoyed looking at my photos and many spoke to me about aspects of women’s intimate health. Many people asked about the ideas I express in my photography. These discussions opened up discussion about support for women sufferers and gave the support group an opportunity to engage with attendees.

Topics and Speakers on the night:
  • Management of Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis: Dr Susan Evans
  • Endometriosis and Fertility: Dr Felicity Brims
  • Living with Endometriosis and Activities of the Canberra Endometriosis Centre: Melissa Parker

Margaret Kalms with some of her photographs from her solo exhibition, “Period Piece”
Margaret Kalms with some of her photographs from her solo exhibition

Buying Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain by Dr Susan Evans
Woman buying the book Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain

"Period Piece" - 20 May to 6 June 2010

Exciting news!

My solo exhibition, “Period Piece” will be held in the Huw Davies Gallery, Manuka Circle, Griffith, ACT.

Period Piece is a statement of respect for women’s bodies, not a response to men’s fantasies. The subtle eroticism and sexuality are used to express what being a woman feels like, with a focus on what menstruation means and feels like in emotional and philosophically symbolic terms.

Because all clothing is a product of a particular culture and time in history, many of the women in “Period Piece” are naked. Nude bodies reduce the distracting influences and are therefore timeless. I use black and white to represent any woman regardless of ethnicity. These images express experiences common to all women.

In many cultures and in the past women have been taught to feel shame about menstruation. There are many rituals and exclusions that frame the menstruating woman as dirty, polluting and someone to avoid. My photographs challenge these prejudices and tabus. My images are confronting, dramatic and surprising, but they are also beautiful and designed to enhance women’s perception of themselves.

Secrecy, prejudice and lack of knowledge can have health implications for vulnerable women. It is difficult for some women to candidly discuss their menstrual problems even with doctors. This body of work helps to open that dialogue. To support women’s health I am donating 10% of sales towards endometriosis research.

I am thrilled that Dr Anne Sneddon, specialist from Canberra Endometriosis Centre will open this exhibition.

The exhibition features 14 original digital photographs printed on archival rag (Canson) in a limited edition of 25 signed prints.
“Period Piece” images are not shown on this website. Ten of the images have not been exhibited before.

You are invited to the opening at 6:00pm on Thursday 20th May.

Labiaplasty

Last night I watched “Hungry Beast” on ABC TV. This program, presented by plucky young people, picks out interesting and controversial snippets of news and themes. To quote from their website, “ It covers everything from the silly, to the serious, to somewhere in between; always from a different perspective.” Last night was an article about labiaplasty. You may view this online on the following web address. I am writing this link out in longhand, separately because the clip contains images of genitals and talks about genital surgery. These images are rated as M15+ and if such material offends you, do not click on the link;
http://hungrybeast.abc.net.au/stories/labiaplasty

There were two aspects to the report;
  1. the censorship laws that allowed full frontal nudity only if labia are not visible
  2. the increase in the number of real women having plastic surgery to cut off their perfectly normal, healthy labia.

The censorship laws are accommodated by some magazine editors by manipulating photographs of women and trimming their labia digitally within Photoshop. The women models remained healthy and intact, but of course the image is a construction, not a true representation.

Unfortunately the publishing of these altered images gives the public the impression that labia are not normally visible. Normal women are seeing their genitalia as ugly and in need of modification. The plastic surgeon called it “surgical improvement”! Of course he would, it helps his business to call it improvement. I am horrified by this. Surely labiaplasty is genital mutilation. All surgery carries risk, infection, poor workmanship, healing problems, scarring, loss of sensation, even death from complications. This is a lot of risk for something that is not even a true representation of women and is totally unnecessary.

Censorship laws are supposed to protect the population from damaging sexuality, not promoting genital mutilation!

There is also a possible connection with pedophilia. Sexually immature girls have small labia that are not visible from the outside - “a single crease” to quote the Photoshop artist. When a woman reaches puberty, she grows breasts and labia. These are normal secondary sexual characteristics of womanhood. The censorship laws are requiring adult women to look like little girls! If men become habituated to these images, it is a small step to finding under age girls themselves sexually arousing and desirable.

Censorship laws are supposed to protect under age girls, not turn them into objects of desire!

Our culture already sexualises under age girls to a great extent causing enormous suffering to women. This is one more example. You can read more about the sexualisation of girls in, “Getting Real” edited by Melinda Tankard Reist, published by Spinifex, 2009.