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Themes/Gender: Opening up about masculinity and mental health

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‘Murmation’, Jewel Kaye, 2019., Jewel Kaye. Murmation. 2019. Photograph and styling: Jewel Kaye.
| Photograph: Jewel Kaye
Written by
Marcus Nelson
Published date
17 September 2019

Have you read Marcus' post about Boys Don’t Cry UK, the UK art collective he founded with Brooke Wilson? Take 5 to read this accompanying post.

At ‘Boys Don’t Cry UK’, we work with emerging artists from all backgrounds and creative disciplines. With a commitment to generate a truly open and inclusive discussion around masculinity, we want to provide a platform to as many artists as possible. It seems a good time to introduce you to just a few of those we have worked with on our journey as a collective so far.

Corbin Shaw: Visual artist

a photo of a red white and black flag that reads 'we should talk about our feelings' hung on a blank white wall
‘We Should Talk About Our Feelings’, '2019', Photograph: Corbin Shaw Caption

Corbin’s work explores the performance of masculinity in spaces dominated by men. He makes work from his personal experiences of growing up in spaces such as football grounds, boxing gyms and his dad’s work. He looks at the rites of passage of manhood in England and the roles which men force each other to conform to, and how the traditional views of masculinity that we are told to perform by our elders can affect our mental health.

Explore more of Corbin’s work online

Harry Brown: Visual artist

a 'boys don't cry' flyer which displays a cheetah, a cctv camera and a swimming pool texture background
‘Boys Don’t Cry in the Digital Age’, 2019, Image: Harry Brown Caption

The content of Harry’s work suggests personal conflict and emotion. In his work he looks to understand the connection between idealistic imagery of modern life and those that are neglected. Breaking boundaries between mediums, he adopts recognisable western imagery such as cartoons or advertisements in order to discuss current issues. Harry’s work is vivid, satirical and a bold take on the togetherness of British culture today.

Explore more of Harry’s work online

Edem Kelman: Writer/director

a photo depicting a meeting between a parent and teacher in a classroom
‘We Know’, 2019, Photograph: Edem Kelman Caption

Edem’s practice in film allows us as an audience to engage in another’s experience. As he writes a script or crafts a film, he presents these moments of pain or laughter for us to feel and relate to. He seeks to present a black London not yet shown on screen, both romanticised and real – be it in his mother’s kitchen or in the heart of our churches. For him, film is an opportunity to share and be a voice in a proudly multicultural nation.

Jewel Kaye: Stylist/designer

a look book studio shot of a person facing away from the camera, modelling a blue, patterned silk skirt
Jewel Kaye. Murmation. 2019. Photograph and styling: Jewel Kaye. Caption

Jewel’s practice is concerned with the phenomena that colours and textures evoke different psychological responses and associations within people. As a stylist, he is aware that we always display something about our inner self through the clothes we wear. Fashion photography allows him to make an amalgamation of his many obsessions, from biker patches to Japanese kimonos. His creative work does not have the intention of pleasing people, but rather of keeping himself constantly stimulated.

Follow Jewel on Instagram

Rhys Laird: Visual artist

an art piece which depicts a screenshot of a desktop background, displaying messages of toxic masculinity
‘Man Up’, 2018, Image: Rhys Laird Caption

Rhys’ practice is concerned with the disconnect between the digital and physical world. His work looks at masculinity, homosexuality and gender roles through the eyes of a millennial, and how these ideas play out in the online world. Working across all mediums, from painting to sculpture to film, Rhys is concerned with questioning his own existence as a male in the digital age. His work ties together ‘Instagramable’ and internet-friendly imagery with working-class realities facing young men today.

Explore more of Rhys’ work online

Adam Laidlaw: Visual artist

an abstract painting of a person screaming with their eyes closed
‘It’s Not Working’, 2019, Painting: Adam Laidlaw Caption

Adam creates abstract impressions of his political and personal relationship with a chaotic world. Working either with geometric digital art on his iPad, or acrylic paints on large canvases, he evokes his daily reality. Adam uses his art as a voice for those who suffer with mental illness and struggle on their own. His work illustrates how we can stand up to dystopian influences and ideas with radical hope and a collective opposition to dark forces.

Follow Adam on Instagram

Advisory note: Some of the artists featured may explore adult language or content in their body of work.

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