Project image
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£2,204
pledged of £7,000pledged of £7,000 goal
102
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, October 31 2019 10:01 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 31, 2019

Rewriting the Dictionary: Portraits of an Essex Girl

Showcasing the stories of women and non-binary people from Essex.

Rewriting the Dictionary: Portraits of an Essex Girl

Showcasing the stories of women and non-binary people from Essex.

£2,204
pledged of £7,000pledged of £7,000 goal
102
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, October 31 2019 10:01 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 31, 2019

About

Essex is radical, varied and bold.

With your help, we can get the pictures and stories of women and non-binary people put up on posters, billboards and social media across Essex and beyond


What is this?

Portraits of an Essex Girl is a collection of stories of women and non-binary people from Essex - because whether you fit stereotypes or not, you deserve to be celebrated and championed.

These portraits and stories will become a touring exhibition, go up on billboards and posters across the county, and in a publication that will be available for sale and sent to community centres and schools across Essex.

"I think people don't realise how hard people from this county work. I've not met a single person from here who's not trying their best." - Mav

 Why are you doing this? 

I grew up in Brentwood. I left Essex and moved to London when I was 19. There were many reasons for the move - independence, work, self-discovery, but a major one was that I felt at odds with home, wrestling with being a queer and not-very-feminine person in a place with such a strongly held stereotype of our women by those beyond it.

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of 'Essex Girl'

In the years since, I've been busy! I've taken the photography skills I practiced at house parties as a teenager and used my camera to create art and tell stories. For a while now, I've been wanting to take this craft back home.

Portraits of Essex is a love letter to the county that raised me.

It’s telling everyone who’s ever felt at odds here that they are welcome. It’s making sure that everyone who does feel at home here extends that feeling beyond just their own.

"Places like Southend and Basildon show that it is possible to exist side-by-side and be decent and respectful to each other." - Zahra

It’s standing side-by-side with those who’ve been stereotyped and looked down upon and saying they are valid.

It’s showing those to come that this place is somewhere they can be whoever they want to be. It’s challenging anyone who ever belittled our homes, our lives, our people.

It’s a f*** you to the dictionary.

Behind the scenes of my interview travels so far

Why does this matter?

Right now in the UK, there's a lot of misunderstanding and divide between different groups of people and places. There are a lot of people who don't have power over their own stories. Politically, we're a mess. 

Public art reminds us that we should try to own and embrace our own stories, and challenge our ideas of those we're being told. 

There is no one way to be from any place. But the connotations surrounding the Essex girl stereotype leave both those that do and don’t fit it in difficult positions. All groups should be celebrated. 

‘Portraits of an Essex Girl’ is carving a place in local history that explores the complexities of gender, class and place, and sparks discussions both locally and nationally on who we allow each other to be. 

Essex has an incredibly rich history, from the fringes of London to the estuary and coast. My family is part of the movement of Cockneys from East London. It is home to some of my favourite countryside spots, artists, historical moments, shops, subcultures and people. 

But that isn’t seen by everyone. And I certainly didn’t see it for a long time.

The ‘Essex Girl’ stereotype gained notability in the 1990s, with reality TV spurring the term into the national consciousness in the late 2000s. It’s now in the dictionary, framed in a way that does not champion these women for being who they are. The backlash against the stereotype risks alienating those who fit it.

 "We need more openness and questioning. We need to make more time for each other. There's got to be more to Essex than beautiful houses. There can be." - Tamika

 Why Kickstarter?

It’s no good me meeting all these incredible people if their stories can’t go far and wide, to the people that really need to see them. To me, Kickstarter's value is a community coming together to raise up other communities. And that's why I'm asking for your help. 

Behind the scenes with Liz! Liz is a therapist, writer and comedian originally from Rayleigh. Wouldn't she look great on a poster?

 Together we can build the visibility of the project so other people can share their contributions and crucially, so these stories are seen both in person and online across the county and beyond. So far, the people I've photographed for this project I've found through my own life, online forums, Wikipedia, alumni groups and word-of-mouth.

£7,000 means that 20 Essex Girls can go up in bus stops, train stations or shopping centres across Essex. This covers:

  • Equipment and travel for the interviews/shoots
  • Transcribing the interviews, and paying a local artist to illustrate key moments
  • Printing and displaying these adverts/posters
  • Printing a zine that brings these stories together
  • Promoting these stories on social media

Ultimately, it means we can begin to rewrite the dictionary once and for all.

For every £300 on top of this, we can put up another poster and share another Essex Girl with the world.


Rewards

This is Tamika. She's from Barking. A good contender for cover girl for the zine? She lovingly described this project as 'archiving in real time' - and I think she's onto something.

Apart from that warm fuzzy feeling inside and being part of creating public art with meaning, there's a number of goodies you can get from pledging:

  • Postcards featuring photos of Essex Girls and places they were interviewed
  • A limited edition project poster
  • A one-of-a-kind memento from the interviews
  • A zine with the stories collected
  • A zine gifted in your name to a local community group or school

As well as this, there's also the chance to submit interview questions, nominate an Essex Girl yourself, and even an afternoon out - so we can shape this project together.



Who are you?

I'm an Essex-born now London-dwelling storyteller and campaigner. I've been photographing for as long as I can remember, I tend to use a Canon 6D as well as a mix of analogue cameras including a Nikon F5 and Leica DBP.

This project is part of a Kickstarter initiative supporting social practice artists in the UK. Discover other projects supported from our collaboration with Social Art Network: https://www.kickstarter.com/social-art-network

Risks and challenges

I haven't secured all 20(+) subjects yet, but I'm well on the way.

This is a learning curve! I've also never explored a new form of practice on this scale. But I've done my research into displaying work like this, and I have a great support network of artists and innovators from across London and Essex that have offered to help me make this happen.

I guess there's also conquering my fear of reframing a negative stereotype term on a huge public scale. That's a big challenge in itself. But this is the first step!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About US$ 7

    I'll send you a selfie

    You'll get a one-of-a-kind selfie taken during the project process - maybe with one of the participants, whilst on the road, or even with a billboard.

    Includes:
    • A one-of-a-kind selfie, just for you
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About US$ 13

    Suggest an interview question

    Give me a question you'd like to ask in my interviews and I'll use it!*

    * Unless it is offensive, derogatory or a safeguarding risk.

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    Pledge £15 or more About US$ 20

    Wish you were here!

    You'll get two limited edition photo postcards as well as a unique memento from the project.

    Includes:
    • Postcard of an Essex Girl
    • Postcard of a location in Essex
    • Secret memento from the interviews
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    Pledge £20 or more About US$ 26

    Be a poster pledger

    You'll get a poster featuring one of my favourite photos from the series, a limited edition postcard, as well as a special, unique memento from the project.

    Includes:
    • Secret memento from the interviews
    • Postcard of a location in Essex
    • Poster of an Essex Girl
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £30 or more About US$ 39

    Publication pledger

    You'll get a limited edition physical publication showcasing the stories from the series and 2 x postcards.

    Includes:
    • Postcard of an Essex Girl
    • Postcard of a location in Essex
    • Project zine
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £60 or more About US$ 77

    Honorary Librarian

    Hello generous soul! You'll not only get a limited edition publication featuring stories from this series, but you'll be sending a copy to a school, youth or community group in Essex too - helping us build a county-wide archive of these stories. You'll also get 2 x postcards from the project too.

    Includes:
    • Postcard of an Essex Girl
    • Postcard of a location in Essex
    • Project zine
    • 'Honorary librarian' of a zine gifted to a community group
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £75 or more About US$ 96

    Collector's bundle

    You want all the merch? You got it! With this you'll get a poster, 10 x postcards AND a copy of our publication too.

    Includes:
    • Postcard of a location in Essex
    • Postcard of an Essex Girl
    • Project zine
    • Poster of an Essex Girl
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    Limited 2 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £200 or more About US$ 256

    Nominate an Essex Girl!

    I'm saving 8 interview spots for Kickstarter supporters to curate. Do you have a woman or non-binary person from Essex that you think deserves to have their story shared? Here's your chance to give them that.

    You'll also get a copy of the publication and postcards, and a memento from the interview with your nominee, as an extra thank you for your support.

    Includes:
    • Postcard of an Essex Girl
    • Postcard of a location in Essex
    • Project zine
    • Secret memento from the interviews
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    Pledge £500 or more About US$ 640

    Poster girl

    Your support will cover the cost of a billboard/advert, so why not get one in tribute of you? You'll get to help decide the location of one poster/advert, which Essex Girl goes on it, and it'll include a special thank you to YOU.

    Includes:
    • Your name, on a billboard.
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    Pledge £1,000 or more About US$ 1,280

    Girls on tour

    Not only will you get a copy of the zine and 5 copies given away, a poster, 10 x postcards AND a memento..

    But you'll get an afternoon tour in a part of Essex with the artist, where you'll explore the things that make the place so special. You'll get your very own Portrait too.

    Includes:
    • Poster of an Essex Girl
    • Postcard of a location in Essex
    • Postcard of an Essex Girl
    • Project zine
    • Afternoon out with the artist
    • 'Honorary librarian' of a zine gifted to a community group
    • Secret memento from the interviews
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    Limited 0 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)