Platform Graduate Award – Natalie Sired on making BEEFCAKE

As part of Platform 2020, University of Reading graduate Natalie Sired presents an accomplished online exhibition of film, poetry and prose.

In this new written piece, Natalie takes us on a journey through the sensuous audio-visuals of her exhibition, BEEFCAKE and the themes of feminism, nature and the patriarchy she boldly scrutinises.

Words and images by Natalie Sired.


After one, arguably mild, form of sexual harassment against me in my workplace, the inner anger in me ignited.

I felt my artistic focus sharpen, like I was ready to dive deep into navigating my own responses to objectification and subjugation. After a while of exploring these topics, my gaze began to shift to how the exploitation of women historically reflects that of nature. My practice had evolved into an exploration of ecofeminism and how I interpreted these ideas in relation to my own experiences.

I began to truly delve into my thought processes through writing.

In fact, the first piece of explicitly feminist work I made evolved from an enraged written outburst made in response to the previously stated minor incident. This work then prompted me to keep experimenting with ways to use writing, visual art and performance together as a combined medium to carry resonance, introspection and sensory elements.

By the time lockdown brought its ugly wrath upon us all, I was faced with very limited resources available, other than my very small flat, phone and the great outdoors. I bought an inexpensive set of camera lenses, in the hope that particularly the wide lens would improve my chances somewhat.

Yet after lots of experimentation, I fell in love with the macro lens.

I decided that making a film comprised of entirely close up shots would solve the issue of limited filming locations and subjects. It also meant that I could cultivate a close, uncomfortable, claustrophobic feeling to elevate the message I was determined to send.

The macro lens became an important part of the piece and its process; it helped to illustrate my reflections on gender based microaggressions by embodying the meanings of both prefixes. ‘Micro’ refers to variations and characteristics on a small scale, whereas ‘macro’ refers to relationships and variations on a larger proportion.

Thus, my intention was to use close ups to depict my own uneasy response to the misogynistic and objectifying microaggressions aimed at me, whilst drawing attention to the relationship dynamics between humans and nature.

I also wanted to highlight how gender-based nature stereotypes and nature-based gender stereotypes are harmful to both humans and the planet.

I was inspired by artists such as Zadie Xa, Sophie Jung, Patricia Lockwood and the artists from the Cold Protein Podcasts who use oral storytelling and poetry to inject intimacy to a piece of audio work. From my performance art experience, I have learned that including the ‘marked and the mark making body’ (Jade Montserrat) elevates a feminist work by embodying the female as artist and subject. But having less enthusiasm for live performance art, I devised a different way to communicate my thoughts through intimacy and corporeality, without using my body as a visual prop. The inclusion of my voice as artist hopefully still captures the intimacy that makes such a work so compelling and through-provoking.

I had a vague draft of a poem I had written (BEEFCAKE 1), which I then fine-tuned it into something that expressed my feelings toward the exploitation of femininity and nature.

My process is largely non-linear and organic; BEEFCAKE materialised after much see-sawing and building on primitive drafts, until it naturally reached its final form. I married the poem and the visuals instinctively, but largely followed vague themes attributed to the poem’s verses.

When writing, I do often conjure images, shapes or colours in response to the thing I’m working on.

For example, my poem ‘Are We All Just Digital Dwellings?’ makes me think of metallic greyness, while BEEFCAKE was most definitely hues of purples, pinks and gruesome greens, suggestive of the body, femininity, nature and grisly fear.

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making this conceptual poetry film, and hope to use this medium to further explore my reflections on feminism and nature in the future.


Visit Natalie Sired’s website here.

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