Alice Skinner’s street art celebrates female empowerment

Alice Skinner’s pastel hued artworks celebrate womanhood, strength and solidarity.

Since graduating from LCC, the London based artist has built a cult-like following on Instagram with her intersectional illustrations. Provocative, humorous and heart-warming in equal measure, she uses her whimsical style to document the lived experiences, hopes and beauty of a diverse group of young women.

It seems fitting then, that for her first ever venture into street art, Alice would team up with Benefit Cosmetics – a brand founded by women and known for its philanthropic efforts. Her most ambitious project yet, the 23ft high murals in London and Brighton have been inspired by the collaborative efforts of women who support each other in doing amazing things – something we can all get behind.  Each piece is interactive, with a blank canvas for anyone to add a motivational message.

We caught up with Alice to find out more about the unique project.

Hi Alice, tell us about the mural you will be creating and the inspirations behind it? How do you want people to experience it?

The inspiration for the murals came from the overarching truth that great things happen when women come together and support each other’s actions and accomplishments.

We’re surrounded by examples of this: just look at how women came together to build Waterloo Bridge during wartime…and more recently look at how the #metoo movement is helping to shape the world in which we live.

Within Benefit Cosmetics’ world, the brand was founded by two women – Jean and Jane Ford – who came together with a love for makeup and passion for making women feel good. It’s everything the brand is built on today!

In terms of how people can experience the artwork, what’s super exciting about this is that it is a collaborative effort between myself and the public. I’ve worked with a team of street artists on the mural, and the public in London and Brighton are encouraged to come along to finish the piece! This will make for a unique, immersive and memorable experience and I hope that women will leave feeling inspired and empowered.

The mural includes a blank canvas for other women to leave their messages and express their creativity – was this particularly important to you that it is collaborative in this way?

Because the art celebrates female collaboration, it was important to both myself and Benefit Cosmetics that the mural itself needed to be a collaboration. The public will be asked to leave messages of support for other women, or a simple star, which will finish off the piece. It is a piece of art that will morph as people participate and will take on a whole new meaning once those messages are added.

Who are some of your female heroes?

Frida Kahlo will always be one of my heroes. She was a true rebel who always stood up for what was right. She defied gender stereotypes and never sacrificed who she was or what she wanted from life. I also look up to and admire women who get what they want from life but also help lift up other women along the way. At the moment some of my ‘Sheroes’ are Cardi B, Malala, Roxane Gay, Lindy West and Cynthia Nixon. They’re all doing wildly different things but all so important in raising women’s voices and validating our experiences.

How has it been to work with Benefit, what does the brand mean to you?

Working with Benefit Cosmetics is an absolute dream and this is one of my most exciting projects to date. I have always been a big fan of the brand, not only because of their products, but for everything else they stand for. They celebrate women. They believe that beauty is more than skin deep and that laughter is the best cosmetic.

The brand’s artwork and packaging have always shared a similar aesthetic to mine and that’s why it’s been so fun to create something together with them. Their values are so aligned with my own so it’s been a natural fit for me to work with them in this capacity.

The beauty industry often gets criticised for being misogynistic – do you think beauty can also be a force for good?

I actually think this stems from a view of the past that women wear make-up for men but this is no longer true as women are wearing make-up themselves and using it as a source of power to take on the world. Beauty should be used as a force for good and I think anything that makes you feel good is to be taken note of. I also love the connective and fun aspect that beauty brings. I couldn’t even tell you the amount of times I have helped a friend apply their black eyeliner or fixed a girls false eyelashes in a club loo. I think this is a really great aspect of the good that beauty can bring and it should not be over-looked or seen as frivolous.

What does being an empowered woman mean to you in 2018?

It means doing and being who I want, without my gender holding me back. I truly believe this is the most exciting time to be a woman. Sometimes really bad stuff has to happen for true change to occur and I believe that the world is changing for some women in a post me-too world. There is a true feeling of relief that things are shifting and that definitely fuels empowerment. I think it’s important to note that empowerment comes from a position of privilege though and what is empowering for one woman can greatly differ to another.

Alice Skinner’s Bold is Beautiful murals will be on display at Chance Street, Shoreditch until 14th September and will launch at The Lanes in Brighton with an event on 8th September. 

The murals mark the launch of Benefit’s  – Brow Contour Pro – a four in one highlighting and defining brow pencil with multiple shades.  Anyone who attends and contributes to the mural will be gifted a Gimme Brow+ fun size sample.

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