“THE VOYEUR” – the bare facts and inspiration behind the series.

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Voyeurism
noun
the practice of obtaining sexual gratification by looking at sexual objects or acts, especially secretively.

My fascination with voyeurism began at a very young age when I accidentally discovered a soft-porn magazine hidden beneath the sofa. Being a curious 6 year old I simply had to look, it fell open at the centre spread which revealed a man sitting on a sofa, sporting long hair and a beard, wearing nothing else bar a white shirt and socks. His legs were wide apart and my eyes couldn’t help but gawk at the massive erection he was smugly advertising.

I remember at the time feeling guilty for looking, knowing that I had found something that I really shouldn’t have. So I snapped it shut and placed it back where I found it without mentioning it to a soul. Days passed by but the memory of what I had seen didn’t fade, I couldn’t get the image out of my head, an image that I couldn’t, as a child, fully comprehend but that I nonetheless found strangely arousing.

Unable to let go of this experience my thoughts returned again and again to the magazine and the idea of other people secretively ogling what I was certain were ‘naughty pictures’. My instinct, even as a child, was that this was a perfectly ok thing to do, looking at images. I certainly wasn’t offended or disgusted by it. And it was but a short step from the realisation that people enjoyed the experience of looking to wandering, what it would be like to be the person observed?

So one day I went up to the spare room that overlooked a quiet cul-de-sac that was opposite our house. Standing in front of the long window I pulled down my knickers and waited for a car to drive down to the junction. Eventually a car approached causing my pulse to quicken. At the last minute I lost my nerve and quickly covered myself up. Although now I might cringe at the memory of an act almost performed, there was something bold about her intention. A first ‘sexual experience’ focused on the thought of seeing and being seen.

When I reached my teens I became interested in couture and fashion, wearing make-up to look older and to go out in anticipation of meeting the opposite sex and of hoping they would find me attractive. I’ve always been creative and loved looking different – much to my mother’s disapproval! Although quite a naïve person herself, she continually voiced her opinion that boys were a bad thing and that they were only after one thing, sex. That they’d use you, abuse you and certainly not care for you.

I have always attracted attention, not because I am particularly beautiful, (I don’t think I am), or because of the way I dress, albeit on the quirky side, it’s as if I have been imbued unconsciously with a sexual aura that both men and women find exciting. You could see this as a gift, something that we might all want but as Bob Dylan said ‘you give something up for everything you gain’.

Not all the attention I got was welcome, over time I was verbally abused, touched-up by unwanted grubby men and then on one hideous evening that went very very wrong, I was raped.

I hit rock bottom and feeling as if I was cursed eventually had a physical and mental breakdown. It was months before I realised how low I had become. I began to believe that sex or anything sexual was bad. My six year old self’s innocent curiosity had been shattered and I had lost my confidence and lust for life.

The years passed and although the memories were present and sometimes overwhelmingly vivid, I began very slowly to heal. I had a great job and put all of my effort in to work, I started going out again and catching up with long lost friends.

I met up with an ex boyfriend, a kinky but kind soul, who started telling me about a new club he had started to visit. The place was a fetish club in London that was an eclectic mix of dancing, performance art, a dungeon and lots of dressing up with plenty of exhibitionism. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to share the experience, he thought I would enjoy it.

I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty details of those clubbing nights, but in dressing up outrageously (both scantily and theatrically) I began once more to feel good about how I looked and who I was. Dressing up acted as both armour and expression of myself, I felt safe in that scene and was able to regain my confidence. It was refreshing to be part of something where inhibitions were left at the door. There I met the most genuine, generous and amazing people. I witnessed extraordinary eye-opening moments. It was a place that was full of creativity and play, of apprehension and thrills. For me the most important realisation was that I felt powerful again, a feeling that had been robbed from me but had now returned.

I was very physically fit and wore outfits that complemented my physique; I looked like a petite feminine gladiator. I had a dominance that submissive men loved; they bowed down and let me take control. I quickly realised that I could be in charge, of situations and my sexuality. After the rape I needed to feel strong and good about sex, that it was something to enjoy and embrace and was in no way taboo. My ex was right, I did enjoy the clubbing and it brought me back to life, it also brought back a recollection of my childhood experience standing in front of that long window and a reawakening of my joy in voyeurism.

The Voyeur series of paintings encompass some deep personal emotions that are entwined with the pleasure of storytelling. They contain a sense of control, power, guilt, embracing sexuality and the sensual form. The importance of beauty and underlying eroticism is fundamental, the subtlety occurring from a female, not a male, perspective.

At the moment this series of paintings although imagined is as yet undefined. It is going to be an interesting journey exploring my own relationship with the two sides of voyeurism, the observer and the observed.