Madeleine Iona Smith
Where are you from? What is important to you?
I’m from Elevated Plains, which is nearby Hepburn Springs and Daylesford. Women, education, fashion and chokers are important to me, among other things, obviously. I believe wholly in trying my hardest to be someone who isn’t a negative impact on this already somewhat miserable planet.
Where do you source inspiration for your work?
I find inspiration from babes on Instagram, anime, crying, stuff I see on the ground, textiles and materiality, and driving around in my friend Georgie’s car.
Can you describe your first experience with feminism, or perhaps when you first identified as a feminist?
I’ve always been fairly strident in my views, but probably only started identifying as a feminist when I realised I didn’t actually care what anyone thought of me, and thus didn’t care about the ~connotations~ of being a ‘feminist’. I remember thinking it was unfair that I got told off for swearing when my brother got off more lightly?? I’m pretty damn lucky to be able to express my views on the subject, and I try to remember that everyday.
Sleepover Club is about collective action and art making, but also about joining the broader conversation on feminism, how does your work translate the female experience?
My work comes from the space that I inhabit as a girl and a woman... I believe communication is the ultimate source for progression and development, and thus I think every input into a discussion/conversation is relevant. I’m only exploring things I have experienced myself, so the notion of collective action is beautiful in that my few words and ideas can join together with others’ experiences and we can try and make sense of all the shit that’s happening right now.
Can you expand on the themes and issues you explore in your work?
Honestly, most of my ideas are floating around my head, or recorded in the notes of my iPhone, waiting to be executed. I’m interested in being a girl... and looking at the distinction between ‘girls’ and ‘women’, and how we classify this. We are not really allowed to be both. I don’t like to romanticise being female; I love being a girl, but a lot of the time it actually sucks. Regarding execution and presentation, I want to take my ideas and wear them on my body, and to live them as I walk down the street.
Have you ever experienced sexism in your first hand experience as an artist?
I think I’m lucky to have never really experienced it firsthand, but at the same time, my inability to justify calling myself an ‘artist’ probably has something to do with the worth I place on myself, and how this has been imbued in me by the worth society places on female artists. In high school, my teacher expressed concern that my work was ‘too personal’, and ‘too emotional’...
What do you think needs to change in the art world before women are on par with men?
I think the whole world needs to change before women are on par with men in the art world. The sooner girls and women hold hands, the sooner we can rise up and be the queens that we are. We need to start creating our own spaces / galleries / castles where females are regarded as important, as opposed to novelties, which is why I see Sleepover Club as so important.
Can you share with us your favourite female artists/activists/role models?
I have so many!! Audrey Wollen (@audreywollen); Alexandra Marzella (@artits6666); Hari Nef (@harinef); Women’s History Museum (@womens_history_museum); my mom (!!); Emily Castle, from feminist collective ‘Brainlina’ (brainlina.com); and lots of others too.