Sydney-based arts graduate and emerging artist Penelope Tsoutas is looking to break down gender norms and the patriarchy one stitch at a time with her project Women's Work. We got the low-down on what she's working on, where her sights are set and what's next for this young creative.
Who are you?
I am a 21 year old woman from Sydney. I read non-fiction, make art and harass my friends and family for their opinions on various topics that I find to be important.
What are you doing?
Having just finished my degree, I am looking for a job that will allow me to translate my passion for intersectional feminism into tangible change. I continue to make art, because I feel that that’s one good avenue to realise change through the generation of dialogue.
Where do you live?
Sydney for now, but I have my eyes on Havana in the coming year. There’s something about its eerie post-colonial decay that seems conducive to creativity and I want to give it a try.
What are you working on?
My current project is called ‘Women’s Work’, where I re-appropriate archival photographs by embroidering into them. By using a medium that has been traditionally associated with women, I hope to open up dialogue about the way in which the work done by women - from embroidery to childcare - continues to be de-valued simply because of its female associations. In drawing attention to this phenomenon, I hope to subvert it. My informal working portfolio can be found on Instagram @womens.work, and some of my work will be available for online purchase through The Ladies Network online store soon.
What are you studying?
I just recently finished my Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Philosophy and Gender Studies, at the end of 2015. Although I have a South and Central America trip planned for late this year, I am currently using this time to build up my portfolio and lay some foundation for a Gender Studies orientated career beginning in 2017 (fingers crossed!).
Where are you studying?
I studied at Sydney University, although I also did part of my degree at King’s College in London.
What do you hope to achieve from this?
My arts degree has unequivocally made me a better member of society by showing me the extent to which every person is shaped by forces often outside of their control (nationality, ethnicity, age, gender, body shape, wealth etc.). Knowing that, it’s harder to remain wilfully ignorant about my own prejudices and how they affect other people. I have learned, and am still learning, how to be better in this way. Given this, the dream is to find a job where I can balance out the effects of discrimination in some way, by helping a group of people that need it. I’ve just started job-hunting now that I am a ~graduate~. Fingers crossed…
What is The Ladies Network?
The Ladies Network is an all-female platform that supports emerging and professional female creative talent across Australia. They run exhibitions every two months, produce a zine and document the practices of heaps of female artists on their website.
How are you involved?
I exhibited with The Ladies at their most recent exhibition in October, which was their third one. I was also asked to do an interview for their website!