Interview of Trudi Lang by Sophie Pellegrini
Tell us a bit about yourself, Trudi!
I was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and have lived here for most of my life, and for the last 9 or 10 years I have been working with children in one form or another. My main role with kids has been working as a nanny, but I also have experience ranging from sexual health guidance for 12-18 year olds to working as an arts and crafts director in a summer camp in the States. I have always had a desire to work with young people, which is what prompted me to study Early Education and Childcare back in my early 20’s, but I have also had a thirst to pursue my creative side, so I went to study Sculpture and Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art, from which I graduated in the summer of 2015. I loved it, and throughout my time there I focused on the subject of ‘play,’ with my degree show installation being an interactive building experience. I have always had a love for all things crafty, and in the last few years I have reignited my childhood passion for embroidery and cross stitch, and I started ‘Halfstitch Embroidery,’ where I make and sell feminist patches and badges. More recently I am helping with this year’s organising of GIRLS ROCK GLASGOW, a week long Rock’n’Roll summer camp for young girls in Glasgow.
So what is GRRRL STUFF?
GRRRL STUFF is part of this year’s ‘Glasgow Zine Fest’, and is a free drop-in arts and craft event aimed at, but not limited to, young girls under 16. It will focus on DIY ‘Riot Grrrl’ crafts like zine, collage, and badge making. Participants can come along and make some art to take away with them, and maybe even make some new friends too. There will be body positive artists displaying work, and a host of female identifying volunteers there to help with anything that you need. There will be a small feminist zine library for inspiration and all of the materials you need will be supplied by us, but we totally encourage girls to bring along any old magazines or materials that they may want to cut up and use too. You can find us in MONO, 12 Kings Court, Glasgow, G1 5PR from 12-3pm on Saturday 30th April.
Where did you get the idea for this event?
In my 3rd year of art school I hosted ‘drop in’ embroidery workshops for the people in my class. Throughout the rest of my time there, I knew that I wanted to create ‘play’ environments in someway, which is what always carried my work in that direction. Knowing my experience with children, Lauren Davis from ‘Glasgow Zinefest’ contacted me to ask if I wanted put on a kid’s workshop for their event in 2016 and I jumped at the chance. There were a few factors involved in the initial planning stage for the event. I thought about my own adolescence, and what was missing in creative experiences for me then. There is a huge lack of encouragement when it comes to the arts for young people, and as adults, we don’t do enough to provide them with places to go and things to do. I feel like schools in particular stifle creativity in children, so I wanted to provide a place for girls to meet and hang out with their friends in a relaxed and fun space and learn some new ‘making’ skills that may then inspire them to continue making after the event is finished. Since I was young I have been interested in the ‘Riot Grrrl’ movement, which has huge DIY influence, so I thought this was a perfect way to introduce young girls to zines and collage art. I decided to invite body positive artists to participate in the area surrounding because with the amount of images of the ‘perfect’ Photoshopped body that we see every day, I think it is important for girls to have the chance to see some empowering art by women in the same space that they are making their own art.
What does “feminism” mean to you?
I guess the end goal of feminism for me is about absolute equality between genders. Because of the society that we live in, however, there are so many layers to feminism, with many women facing other forms of systematic oppression as well as sexism. These issues then become intertwined with gender issues and also need to be addressed in order for the ‘end goal’ of feminism to be achieved. The journey of feminism for me is about empowering yourself, and empowering other women. It is about waking yourself up and realising that there is a lot that needs to be done for us to reach a place where all women are treated and valued the same as men. It is about stepping out of your comfort zone and analysing your own behaviour in order to unlearn a lot of the bad habits that we pick up from being brought up in this kind of society, so that we can be truly accepting of each other, and be supportive to those who really need it. At times it can definitely be confusing trying to find your place in feminism but there is a place for everyone. The advent of social media has really given the younger generation access to information that I didn’t have when I was a teen, and it’s beautiful to see so many girls gain the power and confidence that comes with knowledge. I’m looking forward to seeing how this evolves and continues to provide women with a platform and a voice.
Why is intersectional feminism important?
Intersectional feminism is essential because everyone experiences sexism in different ways, and it’s important for us to be informed and supportive of what other groups of women go through for us to progress. Without intersectionality, mainstream feminism tends to only focus on issues that affect white, cis and able bodied women. I consider myself privileged, and I guess to look at, I am what you would call the ‘mainstream media image’ of feminism. I am white, Scottish, I come from a middle class background and have no disabilities that affect my everyday life. No one gets to choose the privileges they are born with, so I really need to be aware of what they are so that I can make sure that my feminism doesn’t only focus on my own experiences. Instead it needs to focus on those who are experiencing many levels of oppression at the same time; for women of colour, those with disabilities, transgender women, and those with different body types, to name a few. Conversation and actually listening to what other women have to say about their own experiences of oppression are, and using your privileges to help facilitate their voices being heard is the key to intersectional feminism.
If you could tell your 15-year-old self anything, what would it be? And if you could do anything differently during your teen years, what would it be?
I think it’s important to not look back on anything with regret. If I went back and did things differently then I might not be where I am today. I’ve definitely made some bad decisions in my time, but I’ve also made lots of good ones along the way too. We can’t change what’s in the past, but we can make a difference in the future, and that’s where we should all be looking towards. I’m coming up to 29 and I’m still learning about life and I don’t think that ever stops for anyone. So I think the only piece of advice I would have given teen me is to not dwell on the mistakes that you make. Sometimes you make a bad choice, but that doesn’t define who you are. Move on, and always ask for support when you need it, whether it’s family, friends, or even online support networks/counsellors/helplines. That’s easier said than done, but talking through your problems can really help you get through difficult times.
What do you hope to achieve with GRRRL STUFF/what do you hope to see come of it?
Mostly I hope that GRRRL STUFF is a fun and positive day for those who come along. I hope that girls go away feeling good about themselves. We are all born creative, but over time we feel like we lose it if we don’t use it. We don’t. It’s always there, it just needs re-awakened. So I would hope that those who maybe aren’t so confident when it comes to art or ‘making’ go home with a buzz about what they are capable of! I would love for this to become a more regular event in the future, so I will be doing everything in my power to make that happen. I am always happy to hear from people who want to get involved or put on similar events, so I am really excited to see where this goes.