Home » Gender and Sex » Why does Sally Nixon think you want to see a woman in her toilet? She tells us

Why does Sally Nixon think you want to see a woman in her toilet? She tells us

Durga M Sengupta | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

Think of a painting with a woman in it. Is she stunning? Is she famous? Is she doing something fabulous like dancing, walking around a garden, or smiling at the babe in her arms? She probably is.

And that's what American illustrator Sally Nixon's art disrupts. Her women, whether in the frame or not, do ordinary things. They're not women conscious of being documented, thereby not projecting themselves to be that ideal smiling woman you imagined in the picture.

Sally Nixon's illustrations capture women at their personal best, without frills. And amazingly, that makes her art rather rare.

We spoke to the artist about her work, urging her to caption the images she sent us. But she didn't send us any. "I didn't include captions for the images because I like for the viewer to come up with their own story for my drawings without any sort of influence from me. Makes it more interesting!" says Nixon. And she has us convinced.

Here's Sally Nixon's interview with Catch, interspersed with her work.

Disclaimer: We've acquired all her work directly from her. Please don't steal it. It's bad karma. And theft.

1. Where did you get the idea? Were you tired of how women are projected in art, or did you see someone doing something utterly mundane? When did you know that "this is what I'm going to do"?

This series of drawings was a part of a 365-day drawing challenge that I started last April (I just finished it a few weeks ago). It wasn't a deliberate decision to draw women doing everyday things. It just sort of came about naturally. 

When you commit to doing one drawing everyday, you constantly have to come up with new things to draw. It got to the point where I was finding more and more inspiration from my everyday routine.

2. Do you know these women? Do you imagine them? Or are they strangers?

I think each of them has a little bit of my personality in them. However, I'm constantly inspired by people I know or see.

3. I can't help but notice they're single women (if heterosexual). Have you kept men out of the frame for a reason?

Personally, the way I act by myself or with my very close friends, is different than how I act in public or around people I don't know that well. I wanted to show women being themselves, without worrying about what society thinks of them. 

It wasn't a conscious decision to leave men out, but I was more interested in depicting women as they are when they're alone and when they're around other women. Future drawings may include some men. Who knows?

4. Have you ever considered sketching men in the same manner? 

I don't have a huge interest in drawing men. I'm not opposed to drawing them, but I haven't felt the need so far.

5. There are works with no one in the picture, and with furniture that speaks of the woman out of the frame. Are these autobiographical? Or is there a deeper message?

I love using the details in my drawings to tell a story or to give clues to the viewer. Sometimes they're autobiographical. Sometimes I make up a character in my mind and then draw what I think their bedroom (or kitchen, or living room, etc.) would look like. 

First published: 19 April 2016, 2:44 IST
Durga M Sengupta @the_bongrel

Feminist and culturally displaced, Durga tries her best to live up to her overpowering name. She speaks four languages, by default, and has an unhealthy love for cheesy foods. Assistant Editor at Catch, Durga hopes to bring in a focus on gender politics and the role in plays in all our interactions.