Sheenagh Bleakney (b.1998)

Keep Soho Sleazy (2021)

Screenprint on aluminium

59cm x 84cm

Courtesy of the artist

Sheenagh Bleakney is a Belfast-based artist who graduated in 2021 with First Class Honours in BA (Hons) Fine Art from Belfast School of Art, Ulster University. She received the Belfast Print Workshop Graduate Award in 2021 and is a Graduate Artist in Residence at the Belfast School of Art (2021/22). Her practice is informed by key issues of the current social and political climate, such as Brexit, COVID-19, and women’s rights. In response to these issues and how they are portrayed through traditional and social mass media, she creates screen-prints, photo intaglio prints and analogue photomontages of familiar imagery and language in compositions that appear unusual or nonsensical.

The conversations and protests surrounding women’s safety, assault and sexual violence after the death of Sarah Everard and the debates in Stormont on abortion access in Northern Ireland at the time, acted as a stimulus for It Is Nat Awl Riot, a photomontage which was later developed into the screen-print Keep Soho Sleazy. The initial photomontage was influenced by Hannah Höch’s Cut with the Kitchen Knife Dada Through the Last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch in Germany (1919) and Suzanne Duchamp’s Give me the Right to Life (1919). Bleakney used jumping female figures as a reference to Höch’s use of the dancing female figure symbolising women’s freedom, and an illustration of scissors as a nod to the scissors in Duchamp’s comment on abortion.