Written by Safiya, Maria, Bristy and Anna - The Rice Box Studio (Camberwell Graphic Design Alumni)
Rice Box Studio, an inclusive practice created by 4 BAME designers - Safiya, Maria, Bristy and Anna (left to right) - which focuses on designing projects for social good with an interest in creative tech, interaction design, education, and representation.
All recent graduates of Camberwell Graphic Design, we first collaborated a year ago at the Tate Exchange. Led by a UAL-based group - The Digital Maker Collective, we ran talks and workshops with CRIN and the public to explore ideas of making society a better, fairer place. During this week, Basma Osman (from CRIN) and Safiya did a talk on period poverty and periods within different cultures. We were angered by the news of the death of a 21-year-old woman in a Chhaupadi, a cowshed where women are sent during menstruation, from smoke inhalation as she lit a fire to keep warm. This talk was our first attempt at trying to chisel away at the shame and stigma we weren’t fully aware that surrounded the topic of menstruation.
Once we had graduated, we were re-approached by CRIN to pilot a design fellowship to explore the intersection between art and activism. We were given 6 months to develop a social change project aimed at girls between the ages of 11 to 17. Almost naturally we chose to continue exploring the notion of period poverty, excited to make a difference.
RED CLOUD PROJECT was born - an educational book designed to break the misinformation around menstruation containing obvious chapters such as; know your body and period, the maze of period products out there, and the implications of period poverty. To avoid regurgitating the plethora of useful information available, we have also included chapters on breaking myths, and how culture and religion interact with our perception of the menstrual cycle. Additionally, reflective activities and exercises accompany each chapter to encourage conversation and reflection.
This project has allowed us to speak to many religious leaders and theologians like Rabbi Sybil from West London Synagogue, Imam Arij from a mosque in Canada, Father Jonathan from the Anglican Church, Natasha Chawla from the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, and Dr. Lidia Wojtczak, a senior Lector in Sanskrit from SOAS to help contextualise how menstruation sits within religions.
Within the book, we wanted women and non-binary people to share their experiences about menstruation through crowdsourced stories. Our aim in the project isn’t to preach and tell people what to do but to encourage conversation, sharing and informing them as much as possible to clear up myths around periods. These crowdsourced stories accompany each chapter and contextualise it with the narratives of menstruators from around the world. While some of the shared stories are light-hearted and comedic, some touch on heavy topics like needing to drop out of school at a young age, or the financial struggle of buying period products.
As CRIN is an NGO, they were able to put us in touch with people internationally when we were crowdsourcing stories or looking for creditable people to peer review our book. Furthermore, Child’s Right International Network felt it was imperative to trial this book with our intended target audience - children, and work with their honest (and sometimes brutal) feedback.
Approaching the end of the fellowship, we have encountered many opportunities through the Red Cloud project.
Last month, we hosted a workshop at CSM where people were able to make their own 'period tracking bracelet'. This is thanks to the MenstrUAL event held by the Post Grad Community. The bracelet is a tangible way of visualising the menstrual phases during a month. It's not often you can ask strangers what stage they are in their menstrual cycle. We found sitting and talking with people while they made their personalised bracelets to be an engaging experience.
Period Cloud Project - Images
For International Women’s Day at Tate Modern, we presented our Period Cloud - an interactive printing machine with 5 period related buttons. Users simply press a button and learn something new about periods. All content were extracts from our upcoming book.
To keep up to date with the Red Cloud Project, please follow us on Instagram! @redcloudproject
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