Nature Of Motherhood Revised

In recent posts, I examined fragmented femininity and Delaunay triangulation. I was inspired by the work of Anna Kövecses, who combines photography with hand drawings. I became curious how the narrative and style of my existing illustrations would change if I use fragmentation and photo collage. I applied Delaunay Triangulation to the illustration The Nature Of Motherhood and incorporated photos of me and my daughter Emma. The artwork has a personal, intimate feeling. The geometry adds an abstract quality to the picture and the message of "motherhood" is encoded in the maze of elements. The photographed gazes survey back the viewer. It is an interesting transformation of my style.

Inspiration Polly Nor

The concept of the "male gaze" and "female gaze" was first discussed by British art critic John Berger in his essays Ways of Seeing (Berger 1972). Later feminist writer Laura Mulvey (Mulvey, 1975) reinforces this concept claiming that in cinema the camera gaze is “male” due to the male perspective of filmmakers. I wanted to find how contemporary artists challenge the male gaze and I came across the daring and humorous illustrations of Polly Nor.

London-based artist Polly Nor challenges the image of the objectified woman, created by pornography and intended for male pleasure. In her interview for Dazed magazine (Dazed 2015), she states:

“I am questioning the ubiquitous male vision (of women),” she tells us, offering instead an “alternative view on sexuality, relationships and emotions from a modern-day female perspective.” - Polly Nor, Dazed 2015
Polly Nor,  Babe You Are Going To Be Fine , 2015.

Polly Nor, Babe You Are Going To Be Fine, 2015.

Polly Nor,  Trust Nobody , 2015.

Polly Nor, Trust Nobody, 2015.

Nor is inspired by “funny texts, angry tweets, memes and selfies” (Dazed 2015). Most of her work is self-directed. Her process begins on paper, where she implements her visions into hand drawings and then she colours digitally in nude and pastel hues.

Sexuality is a common subject matter in her artwork, depicted in satirical and light tone. The devil creature in her images represents the dark side of her characters, Nor explains.

Nor's work differs from mine, both in the way she represents the feminine role and her bold, comic-like style of drawing. While I use botanical, floral elements to create idealised feminine compositions, Nor is not afraid to show the flaws of her characters in domestic scenes. Sometimes the characters escape into a wild, tropical world which signifies the inner savage feminine desire.

Polly Nor,  It Never Happened , 2015.

Polly Nor, It Never Happened, 2015.


Berger, J. 1972, Ways of seeing, Penguin, London.

Mulvey, L. 1975, Visual pleasure and narrative cinema, Screen, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 6-18.

Body Art - Illustration Process


The illustration below is my response to the body art and modification research I did recently. I was influenced by the tribal lip-plugs and neck extenders, that I saw in Pitt Rivers museum. Further, the concept of the female body as a canvas, in addition to being represented in art, is fascinating to me. The figure of the woman in my drawing is inspired by Rolf Armstrong's paintings. His glamour girls from the 20s are synonymous with the American "Good Girl" art (American Art Archives). I imagined how such pinup girl would look with body modifications typical of an African tribe. As discussed previously, such modifications may seem extreme to our Western culture, but are comparable to extreme plastic surgery, corset binding etc, found in our society. 

Sabina Radeva,  Body Art & Modification , 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Body Art & Modification, 2015.

Further, I was inspired by the "Hand Marks" fashion and surface design trend and the work of Laura Slater. I painted ink lines, dots, geometric elements and mixed those with tribal art elements. This idea shares similarities to Terry Hays's fashionable tribal patterns. However, my patterns are less dense and are stylistically different. One could also trace my inspiration to the YASCO nudes covered with Henna designs. Unlike these, the final look of my illustration is rather close to Pop Art.

My influences and inspiration, documented previously in this blog, can be recognised in the language of the final artwork. However, the illustration feels distinctly mine and departs from any of the examples that I collected during the visual research. To that end, I am satisfied with the process and will use it further in other self-directed projects.

Sabina Radeva,  Illustration Process - Sketches , 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Illustration Process - Sketches, 2015.

Pitt Rivers,  Haida tribe lip-plugs.  Photo by Sabina Radeva 2015

Pitt Rivers, Haida tribe lip-plugs. Photo by Sabina Radeva 2015

Sabina Radeva,   Illustration Process - Patterns  , 2015.

Sabina Radeva, Illustration Process - Patterns, 2015.