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Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

THE SEX FILES: Talking Consensual Kink With Latex Artist Michelle Mildenhall

Latex Artist Michelle Mildenhall works, as well as wears, latex. Her latest Consensual Kink show, running in the UK presently, presents Michelle’s handmade portraits using the “temperamental material” she loves so much. I had an opportunity to catch up with this busy lady to talk about her art and her show.

What can people find walking through Consensual Kink?

I hope to thrill and tantalize audiences with a mix of provocative art featuring new pieces, including “Brexit Bound,” depiciting a woman gagged and tied with the European flag in the background to my variation of this piece, “Land of the Free,” in which the same figure is seen in the same way but with the U.S. flag in the background. My work also boldly explores sexual taboos and BDSM themes-examining both empowerment and vulnerability-and I also fetishisize iconic personalities, like Vladimir Putin, HM The Queen in my pop art style.

Other than the obvious, what is a latex artist in your estimation?

For me it’s a total fetish. As an artist, new experiences are essential to my creativity and I think my first encounter with latex had a profound effect on me. I love the way it makes me look and feel, I still get that tingle of excitement when I open my wardrobe full of latex and when I create my work in the medium.

Do you work in any other mediums and why latex? I read in your press about creating one-off painted pieces.

Hardly anyone works with latex in this way so my work gets easily recognised, and in a world that is saturated with imagery, you really do need to create your own niche. I also sculpt in latex, creating sexy organic 3D pieces. I paint with acrylics and spray paint to recreate my work on canvas too. I use a very limited paint pallet which is derived from matching the latex I use in my art.

What are the positives and the negatives of working with/in latex?

Positives: my style has developed through the use of latex as a medium. I used to create art on a small scale but the limitations of the material have made me work in a larger, more simplified and stylized way. This has actually been liberating rather than restrictive.  My art radiates an underlying element of sexual association, not just from my imagery, but also the connotations of the medium in which I create it. Each piece becomes defined and fetishized via its latex conceptualization,  but the best bit is, that it smells amazing when you’re working with it! Negatives:  technically latex is not an easy material to work with, it has to be meticulously cut by hand and handled with care. The elasticity also throws up a different challenge compared to other mediums.

Why more females, or almost exclusively all females, in your work?

I don’t think that was a conscience choice from the start, it has just developed that way over time. In fact one of the first pieces I did was Grayson Perry, albeit as his alter ego Claire.  I think the main reason I use women in my work is because of their makeup, the brightly coloured lips, the long eyelashes, the coloured eye shadows all help to create my Pop Art style.

I look at your pop art style and Andy Warhol comes to mind as a possible influence, but I am woefully ignorant when it comes to visual art so let me ask, who are your influences?

My influences include Aubrey Beardsley, John Willie, Cornelius Makkink, Ellen Von Unwerth and indeed Andy Warhol to name a few, but I find inspiration and influences from everywhere, from Torture Garden to Typography. In fact, I’m a little magpie when it comes to inspiration. My art is completely driven by my inquisitive and curious mind. I love to observe people in the street, what they’re wearing, colour combinations and textures. I look at erotic art, books, photographs, hear inspirational music, watch performers, meet colourful characters. I try to look at things in a different light, with a kind of openness.

Are solo shows as exciting as they are nerve racking?

For me yes, I find solo shows both exciting and nerve racking. I definitely have a nervous energy about me most of the time and  I do get quite apprehensive showing people my art for the first time but I also get very excited too. I’m so passionate about my work, I want everyone to see it. My art is quite risqué and very personal, so it really is putting my heart on my sleeve. My new show Consensual Kink has over 20 original pieces of work in it, which is the largest amount of work I’ve ever shown, it was also filmed by Latex Fashion TV too, so very nerve racking!

What’s coming for you in the future?

After my show I have work to do for a show at the The Affordable Art Fair in Hamburg, Germany in November and in Jan/Feb 2018 I will have an exhibition at The Old Truman Brewery in London at the charity event FACE VALUE 2, a show in aid of the Katie Piper Foundation, Katie Piper being the young woman, now TV presenter who was attacked with acid in 2008, alongside Jake and Dino Chapman, Pure Evil and Sarah Lucas to name a few. I am also planning a new show with fellow artist Shuby, which will be a fabulous mix of naughty provocative art.

You can find more about Michelle Mildenhall on Instagram and at www.michellemildenhall.co.uk.

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THE SEX FILES: Talking Consensual Kink With Latex Artist Michelle Mildenhall