INTERVIEW: SLUTMOUTH | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Bettie Hope is a North East-based textile artist and surface designer who goes by the wonderfully memorable name of Slutmouth; fiercely rejecting societal taboos through her bold and experimental designs, her work has most recently been featured on the door of Middlesbrough’s DIY hub Base Camp.

With a collection which includes prints dismissing the culture of toxic masculinity, not to mention vulva print earrings, the catchily titled ‘You Don’t Control My Anus’ scarf and a variety of Pussy Riot-style masks, I was interested to know what inspired Bettie to tackle such huge and often controversial subjects through her art. “I am inspired by a whole host of artists who exercise agency to bring down oppressors and social constructs,” she says, explaining her desire to encourage people to begin respecting themselves whilst remaining tolerant and empathetic, before adding:all seriousness aside, sometimes I just feel the need to create a drag queen Jesus.”

Bettie’s recent work has also included the publication of a ‘zine which depicts a collection of her work. “The first ‘zine I made was in my final year at Uni, I then found loads of them in a box and just decided to sell them. I made them into a little affordable ‘zine and sticker pack. In the future I would love to create a little educational ‘zine for young womxn in secondary school and college, with information about periods and sex.” She describes how she found secondary school to be an intense time whilst also trying to understand herself and her body. “I strongly feel if I had an informal educational ‘zine answering awkward questions it would have been very helpful, especially when sex education in school is very much focused on the female reproductive system. Our bodies are so much more than vessels to carry children.”

I am inspired by a whole host of artists who exercise agency to bring down oppressors and social constructs

Womxn’s rights and the depiction of sexuality and gender in society are clear inspirations for her. “I really want to do some more work highlighting the issues within period tax and how society’s attitude towards the menstrual cycle is damaging. I really enjoyed creating an embroidery piece highlighting this issue.” She talks passionately about the way in which ‘feminine’ hygiene products are taxed as luxury goods whilst men’s razors are not, stating that “growing a moustache is a choice, ruining your favourite white jeans with a surprise visit from Aunt Flow is not!”

Along with many other independent creatives, Bettie has felt the impact of COVID-19. “At first I was extremely productive, then I gradually started to slow down. Like most I have lost a lot of work due to the pandemic, but I have used my time to reflect and work through some trauma. The slow period has helped me reflect on my working week, before lockdown I would work from 9am-10pm most days and although I adore what I do, I believe that as a society things should move more slowly, we are speeding through life.”

Bettie is currently working on a range of new products which she aims to release in time for Christmas whilst also working on commissioned portraits, check out her website for details.

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