Following the success of Femme Fierce held on International Women’s Day in March last year it is perhaps not suprising that this year, 2015, it’s coming back and the ladies will be doing it all again.
Promising to be even bigger and better than before with workshops, seminars, a kids wall and of course some of the World’s best female street artists it’s hard to imagine yourself not being in the Leake Street Tunnel when it all happens again for a paintfest the likes of which is rarely seen.
Kickstarter is the chosen vehicle on which to launch with the hope that this time money could be raised to buy enough paint for all the women who are attending with all the focus on the day going towards the chosen charity Plan UK. Speaking about some of the reasons behind the choice of charity, organiser Ayaan Bulale said that she herself had been touched by some of the issues which Plan UK, a global children’s charity well known for its ‘Because I’m a Girl campaign‘, has highlighted.
Born in Denmark to Somalian parents and then growing up in Sweden before moving to the UK, Ayaan has become a true citizen of the World and has seen first hand some of the horrors inflicted on her own family through the process of female genital mutilation (FGM). “My mother was a victim of FGM when she was six years old ” said Ayaan “and she actually asked for it because in the community and the environment in which she grew up all of her friends had had it done and so she also wanted it.”
That decision by a six year child set amidst the backdrop of ingrained cultural norms and supported by adults provided a narrative for life long complications that Ayaans mother would have throughout her life seriously affecting her quality of life. “The fact that thousands of children are sent out of this country each year to go through that is horrific” says Ayaan as she reflects upon the legacy it has borne on her family “it needs to be stopped and stopped now.”
So what impact could Femme Fierce have in terms of raising awareness for such an issue? “I’m hoping we will be able to use street art to connect with the younger generation” says Ayaan. It is after all they who find themselves the victims of FGM and of forced and arranged marriages with girls sometimes being whisked away to lands unfamiliar to them in order to marry people they’ve never met, not knowing what life will hold for them in store next. “What better way than art to highlight these issues” says Ayaan.
Last years event drew artists from all around the World with people travelling from all over Europe and even Dubai to be a part of what was possibly the largest ensemble of female street artists ever assembled. “We’d painted the Leake Street tunnel bright bubble gum pink” smiles Ayaan “but what was even more amazing was when everyone had finished and packing up to go home and I just turned 360 degrees and could just see what was an amazing amount of art.”
The event caught the imagination with the likes of Time Out, Vogue, the Independent, Evening Standard and of course this very blog all featuring it. On the day no less than 4000 people visited the tunnel to watch the artists paint, mingling with the news crews, journalists and photographers to get a glimpse of the artists at work.
Of course given the nature of this legal space, the art doesn’t stay for long with the art from the event last year only now living on in photographs and the memories of the people who were there. But then that’s the beauty of a place such as Leake Street. The art there is not meant to last, it’s supposed to go, and that’s why Femme Fierce will be so special! A cavalcade of colour from the World’s best artists that’s here today and gone tomorrow. To see the art is to experience and it’s the experience that sticks around much longer.
Femme Fierce, the free all female street art festival, takes place on International Womens Day Sunday 8 March 2015 and will feature over 100 top female street artists painting in the Leake Street tunnel underneath Waterloo. Funding for the event is being raised via a Kickstarter campaign which is now live and featuring a range of impressive rewards.
Femme Fierce Gallery – A few reminders from 2014