It's been two years since we had our first issue launch party! To mark the occasion, we want to share the speeches we wrote when it all began. For those who don't know, we're Bianca and Hayley. We've been running Brenda (just the two of us!) for the last two years. We met when we were 18, studying for an art foundation course in Brighton. Five years later, Brenda was born!
(Speeches from the SCARS launch on March 31st 2016 at Onca Gallery, Brighton.)
Around four years ago, during my second year of my undergraduate degree, my mum gave me access to her diary entries. Initially I was interested in the parallels between our lives, but as I read about the insecurities she had felt that were kept locked away in this diary for so long, I realised there were stories that should be spoken about, freely, and without shame.
Brenda had been swimming around in in my mind for a while. When I told Hayley about my idea to create a collective for women to speak honestly and express themselves, she had been wanting to do a similar project, so we joined forces. Hayley had been going through an awful time and wanted to express her pain; and I was also struggling. Yet this project has given us both so much joy, truly proving that Scars can create wonderful things. Reading all of your stories and poetry, viewing all of your photographs, paintings, drawings, cakes (!) and putting all of your work together with Hayley was an emotional experience; we were so touched by the raw honesty and expression from everyone.
For our first issue, we wanted to show that Scars do not have to be hidden away, they can be revealed, and by doing this, we can all come together and embrace everything that we are often told should be cast aside or forgotten about, we want women to no longer feel like they have to remain silent. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to our first issue, I hope we have many more of you join us for the next one!
Around 3 years ago, (would now be 5 years!) I was in an incredibly toxic and abusive relationship, where I lost myself and lost nearly everything around me, I lost my freedom to be creative and to be myself. It lasted for around 11 months, that doesn’t seem long at all, but for that time I was stuck in an corrupted sense of reality and I never felt safe. He made me my worse, he made me silent, he made me loose so much that made me myself and made me proud as a woman. I will never allow myself be there again. I am not, instead I am here with you all.
A lot of people here in the crowd went through that with me, some didn’t know, some had a feeling, some fought against it, some were just there to listen. I am grateful for all, you have saved me, through the ways you all did and Brenda would not exist today without you all. No one knew the full magnitude of what happened, but Brenda allows me now to no longer be silent. It gives me a positive energy and desire to bringing community, and to help speak truth, be proud of who we all are and be able admit, but not let it define us.
This is my truth, my story, but I know it’s not an exception.
Many people within this room today can say they themselves or they know someone that has been in a similar situation. When me and Bianca were sitting in that cafe talking about how we both had been in something similar and our friends, family had too, we decided it was enough and just shouldn’t be. Brenda was born. So we decided that it would be about expressing yourself in anyway and every way you would choose and that would start with just one word. We knew for the first issue it needed to be the word SCARS. I won't let that relationship define me or the scars he gave me torment me, but instead I will embrace them and put them into Brenda and in my own art work.
Brenda is for us all, for all of OUR STORIES. Brenda now exists so there is no longer any more silence, we can speak truth and make sure people don’t end up in a situations where they loose themselves and their freedom to be creative. We cannot let our creativity be taken from us, it is how we speak. Brenda isn’t just about me, and isn’t just for me, it’s for us all. I wouldn't be here without you all, and without this woman standing beside me. I am now strong and have myself.