Thursday 25 June 2020

Delivering another boot

Despite many distractions of late – as in, the wheels falling off the world as we knew it – I’m still trying to do creative work. I was about to publish this pattern but decided to shelve it a while as I’m already getting flack that it resembles a kimono too much…wtf??!!

  Last time I looked this was a kimono.

I hope the same people who so readily monitor and criticise me also have the same vigour in pursuing, outing and shaming Gudrun Sjoden.

My pdf pattern sales have quite suddenly trended downward from a couple of weeks ago so I suspect I may be on a blacklist somewhere. As an aspergers person who takes medication for anxiety and suffers from degrees of paranoia due to decades of bullying in workplaces, the irony is just worrying that either might be the case (blacklist?/paranoia?) ramps up anxiety…

So I decided to step away from clothes patterns for a bit and have started work on a pattern for a cloth boot. In Australia we are in mid Winter so my feet are freezing all the time. I have poor circulation and chronically low blood pressure so frostbitten hands and feet are a constant until daily temps go up above 20C. My old Ugg boots have been worn to death so I mailordered 2 new pair – 2 months ago! 

Unfortunately the Australian factory that makes them in Melbourne (using local workers and Australian grown genuine sheepskin) is inundated with orders and their production line is slower than usual due to the pandemic social distancing protocols instigated in the workplace. I am making do with thick socks and various slippers and even if my toes drop off I refuse to go to nearby Kmart or Target shops and buy a pair of fake fur imitation Uggs made in China. That China based manufacturing companies flood the international market with cheap imitation Ugg boots cannot be a cultural appropriation, of course. God forbid, as PoC its inconceivable they might have some racist, cultural or unethical business practices.

I must publish the pattern quickly as possible too, now that I've shown these pictures on the blog, as China based mass manufacturing businesses constantly monitor my blog to steal pictures I show of  things I've designed and made (acknowledging I'm not the only small time artisan who gets their images stolen). They illegally appropriate the images to put in their online shops pretending its the article they're selling. Tens of thousands of innocent people internationally buy these items and are fleeced of their money when a cheap and shoddy fake imitation of the genuine item is received. The China based companies won't accept returns, Paypal won't refund despite the outright fraud, Facebook and Instagram won't stop these companies doing fraudulent advertising by stopping the illegally appropriated photographs being promoted on their platforms.

Whenever I've been on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest for the last 18 months I see photographs of my textile art scrolling by, advertised for sale at ridiculously low prices, like US$49. Often it'll be an item I worked on for 3-7 days and many times struggled to sell that same original item for $200.

There doesn't seem to be any outrage or public outing of this practice by the same advocates who get infuriated by my puny voice. One of the biggest China based companies who operate this business model, ChicV, based in Guangdong has made profits of millions of dollars. They also use Uighur slave labour and workers from North Korea whose wages are taken by the Kim Jong Il regime....however, none of that seems to compare with my monstrous sins. 

The skills of shoe making are quite familiar to me. Forty years ago as a single Mum I made a comfortable income for 4 years making crotcheted sandals to sell at markets. I’m greatly bemused to see that exactly the same sandals are still being made today. Though sadly the woman artisans live in Indonesia and their product is resold in Australia by middle people who take the larger share of the profits.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Poked the bear bit

"Lucy Illuminata" a digital image by Pearl Red Moon, 2014

I am such a clumsy dickhead.

I try to have a voice in the online community of people who work to raise awareness about the unethical and unsustainable practices of the international garment manufacturing industry. Through Patreon I make monthly ongoing donations to a range of individual artists and organisations I support. Some of the people I give money to are ones I’ve offended. Last night I blew my cover by posting a reply on a discussion thread a campaigner had started. The person, (whom I won’t name as I’ve taken on board the feedback that its regarded as insulting) I’ll call XYZ. I thought I had a relevant comment to make (about the issue, not one iota of it was personal) but XYZ didn’t have anything to say about that, she only focused on her outrage at finding me lurking around on her platform.

I find it bizarre to keep getting told I need to listen and learn. I seem to be the dumbest person in the room who would benefit the most from hearing her conversation, but when my ear was found pressed to the door I got ejected. Through Patreon I was more than happy to pay for the privilege of being educated, because there is real work invested in advocacy. Apparently the message can only be shared with selected right thinking people.

Why is the message so fragile it can’t stand up to a bit of scrutiny? If I ask a question, or - heaven forbid - indicate I think differently why is it such an outrage?

Of course, there are lots of zingy comebacks to justify keeping me distanced, such as – “centering myself” “white woman privilege” “grabbing the mic” “argumentative, defensive racist” ……

XYZ says things that can’t be challenged. Her position is she is always categorically right. I am always totally wrong. If my teensy, weensy little voice pops up saying “what about….?” or “maybe this….?” she says I’m attacking her as a person and never responds directly to the issues I raise.

Despite paying to listen to XYZ I still got kicked out because apparently it is disrespectful. Did it feel like I was trying to bust into the clubhouse? I’ve spent most of my life banished to the naughty corner because of not wearing pink and not playing nice. Club houses are foreign places for me. Ya ya, stay out big blabber mouth.

XYZ said I owed her an apology so I wrote this before ending my Patreon contribution and pulling the ejector seat lever to get off her platform.

XYZ, I am really heartfeltly genuinely sorry we have ended up in this awful slanging match. I truly respect and are grateful for the advocacy you do both for ethics in the clothing industry and for anti-racism. Your voice is powerful, articulate, authentic and I admire you immensely. I regret having caused so much offense to you and other BIPOC voices. Understanding that you feel my paying presence on your platform is still disrespectful and unwelcome I’ve just deleted myself. So sorry and ashamed.

I'm saying it here again for my blog readers.This statement is true. Its not a contradiction that I can apologise to XYZ and still have a disagreement with her. I am ashamed that the situation became fearful and scary for both of us. I am ashamed that I can’t present my person in a way that doesn’t get interpreted as a threat. My message, my words, my advocacy has been obscured because I struggle to dress it all up in pink with a satin bow in the correct way, in the only particular way that is read as acceptable. 

Well fuck it, I take responsibility for a lot of the shit fight becoming more ugly than necessary because my approach seemed very confrontational. Sheeesh! Fancy saying something that wasn't in agreement! 

Mostly I just feel sad to have gotten so off side with somebody I probably have more in common with than disagreement.

A dress made in 2015 from one of textile designs, printed by Spoonflower on cotton jersey knit

Finishing up with a note of good news. Tomorrow I'm having NBN TV from Newcastle (Australia) interview me in my Murrurundi studio. Its a wonderful opportunity to advocate for sustainability. I'll be showing them the remaining coats from my Thirty Coats exhibition and explaining how they're all made from used, thrifted fabrics.

Sunday 21 June 2020

Not pearls of wisdom

Lovely blog readers, over the next week or 2 I'm going to write a series of posts here reflecting on who I am. Before eyeballs roll up in exasperation be reassured I'm gradually working my way back to focussing on my art. If you find the navel gazing and politicking all boring and tedious I get it. Hang in there a bit and I'll shake the bee out of my bonnet...Will provide some pretty pictures so if the writing is all too shite to plough through there is some light relief.

"Ethnic Icon 2"mixed media canvas from 2012.  48x65cm. Applique, machine embroidery, felting

In my last blog I explained why I ditched Instagram.

This blog is the place where I’m entitled to say whatever I want, including any, all or some of my contrarian views. If you disagree please understand I strive to make this a safe place where I’m not demanding or expecting you’re here just to provide the passive applause soundtrack. If you feel inclined to comment, to disagree with anything I’ve said, I welcome it. 

I’m not a great all knowing Buddha sitting on my lotus throne dispensing pearls of wisdom. I won’t be shocked or outraged if you rush up and kick my halo off and jump on it (although I hope you’ll refrain from spitting on it). I actually concede, like other adults in the room, I don’t have all the answers, I’m not always right (possibly even seldom). My views are always conditioned because they arise from the circumstances in which my identity has been formed…. but I try to express what I think coming from an understanding that my lifetime is a continuum of learning, revision and striving to find an ethical way of living within flexible orthodoxies. 

"Ethnic Icon 1" mixed media canvas, 2012. 39x62cm.Applique, machine embroidery, acrylic paint

Above all, I always aspire to work from an orthodoxy that is cosmopolitan, flexible to be re-evaluated and inclusive. I want to be a member of the human race, not somebody confined to having a voice limited by "race", nationality, culture, religious beliefs (none) or gender.

That all sounds pretty virtuous and high minded so I’ll acknowledge it’s a never ending project to keep that inclusivity open to people I judge as tribal and dogmatic. As soon as I say to myself “this is my position” in my head I’ll start formulating and running the opposing view and feel compelled to allow that that idea has authenticity too. It is a paradox of holding a cosmopolitan attitude that if its applied with due integrity you have to allow that diverging opinions and world views, arising from individual subjectivity, identity and multiple intersectionalities, are no less authentic than our own.

Born in 1959, so I’m now 61, I’ve lived through a fascinating era. The second wave of feminism, that I was too young to understand or be involved in, made irrevocable changes to how my life has panned out. Political and social changes wrought by “Womens Liberation” meant my life was no longer going to be confined to the world of domesticity. My own mother had to leave her job when she got married. As her firstborn child I grew up with the expectation I’d work outside “home”, have the option of tertiary education and quite possibly even have a professional career. I had access to what was quaintly termed “birth control” which allowed me to engage in out of marriage sexual relationships without the consequence of an unwanted pregnancy. In 1971 after my mother got divorced she couldn’t get a mortgage from the bank to buy a house because of not having a husband. She had to persist and fight just to get a loan to buy a car. 60 years later all this must be virtually inconceivable to young women.

Penelope, a necklace I made from 2016 (the face image is 18thC historical and out of copyright)