You can pretty much divide people into two categories; those who loved lockdown and those who hated it. Chances are if you’re a creative with a lot of hobbies, you probably didn’t find time to get bored during the pandemic. Perhaps you even enjoyed the break from normality a little too much… For Seonaid McKay (pronounced Sha-nade), lockdown was the perfect time to launch The Goddess Revolution – an instagram page dedicated to all things feminism.
Seonaid is a writer and illustrator based in Shropshire who turned her passion into a platform for activism during the pandemic. Having grown up in South Africa with artists for parents, Seonaid has been surrounded by art for as long as she can remember. She moved to the UK ages 14 and went on to study English and Creative Writing at Coventry Uni but she has always come back to art as a way of expressing herself and her ideas. Her instagram page, The Goddess Revolution is a platform that encourages discussion, educates on feminism and celebrates womxn. I wanted to catch up with Seonaid to find out a little bit more about why she started TGR, when she discovered feminism and how she hopes the world will change.
When did you start The Goddess Revolution?
I started The Goddess Revolution at the end of April 2020. I was coming up to the end of week four of lockdown and I was slowly starting to run out of things to do, so The Goddess Revolution was born! I’ve always wanted to create a platform of my own that I could use to raise awareness and inspire those around me, but I could never really figure out exactly what direction to go. I have a LOT of creative hobbies so TGR very quickly became something of a creative outlet but it isn’t all about just digital art – I’ve got plenty of other creative avenues that I’d love to explore and some very exciting things will be coming soon (think cushions and homeware)!
What do you want other people to take away from The Goddess Revolution?
From the get-go, TGR has been all about inspiring and supporting women and marginalised groups through art. It’s important for me that each art piece is representative of a wide variety of people and that most pieces express a message of empowerment. I’m a firm believer that everyone is an absolute Boss Bitch deep down, so I hope that those who view and follow my work are inspired to go out and achieve the things that they want to do in life. If everyone leaves my page feeling that little bit more empowered, I’m a happy gal!
When did you discover feminism and how has feminism influenced your work?
In some ways, I think feminism and the idea of it came a little later for me than most. I’ve always been exceptionally opinionated but I’ve also always been a bit of a wallflower, especially through my high school years. I sort of accepted my position as a woman in our patriarchal society as normal but, when I was about 16, I started to discover the world of Tumblr and very quickly realised that the behaviour of those around me was completely unacceptable. I immediately identified myself as a feminist and began doing the work to learn more about it.
I’m now on the cusp of 24 and feminism is fully ingrained in almost everything that I do, including my creative work. The feminist movement influences many of the decisions that I make and many of the messages that I portray in my art, and I’m fully okay with that. Feminism and the feminist community in general is a safe place for me, and I hope that I represent that through my work whilst simultaneously creating a safe space for those who interact with it.
What role do you think men play in reaching gender equality?
A very important one! Without everyone taking a stand and doing whatever they can to help achieve gender equality, I personally don’t believe that we will ever get there. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by many men who identify as feminists and put the work in to aid the movement in achieving its goals, however there are thousands of men (and women) out there who have no interest in achieving gender equality at all. Without the majority of people on-board, full gender equality is something that we will likely never see. So, the support and active participation of our male partners, friends, family members, and acquaintances is EXCEPTIONALLY important.
Who are your role models/ feminist minds you look up to?
That’s a really hard question because I look up to so many women! My main role models start a lot closer to home, with many of my biggest inspirations being my female friends, family members, and fellow artists. I’d hands-on-heart say that my mum is truly my biggest inspiration – if I can grow up to be half the woman that she is, I’d have achieved absolute life goals. Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parkes, Georgia O’Keefe, and Maya Angelou are just a few of the feminist artists and historical figures that I look up to – each have done amazing things in their lives and given absolutely zero f*cks whilst doing them. Being a part of the feminist movement means constantly growing, learning, and adapting. There are thousands of women out there that I still have yet to learn about but, to me, they are all inspirational and all worth looking up to.
What books and educational material is out there for people who want to get more in the know?
My go-to book suggestions for anyone wanting to learn more about feminism are ‘Everyday Sexism’ by Laura Bates and ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Both are essentially crash courses in feminism and detail why the movement is so exceptionally important. For those looking to delve into feminist history, I would highly recommend ‘The Second Sex’ by Simone De Beauvoir – although, it’s always important to remember the history of this text and contextualise accordingly. For anyone wanting to learn more about the historical women who pioneered the movement, ‘100 Nasty Women of History’ by Hannah Jewell is a really fun and informative read!
What came first for you, art or feminism?
Definitely art! Both of my parents are artists – my dad paints landscapes and my mum specialises in abstract flowers and nudes – so I’ve grown up within an exceptionally creative household. Throughout my school years, art was always one of my favourite subjects and I practiced it right up until I went to uni to study English. Even though art came first, I do think that the subject of feminism has always been a part of my work in an inadvertent way. I spent a lot of my formative years exploring the self and creating mixed-media collages critiquing religion and the world through my own eyes. In retrospect, I think that feminism has always formed a part of my work, even if I didn’t consciously know that it did!
I love your illustrations of Roman/Greek busts, what made you draw in that style?
In adulthood, I’ve always been drawn to the beauty of nude marble sculptures and statues. I’m just completely blown away by the detailing and I have a huge love for the female form, something which marble highlights beautifully. Additionally, I love the lore of Greek and Roman mythology and the symbolism that each God or Goddess represents. I’ve been obsessed with the Venus de Milo statue for so long – I’m actually getting a tattoo of her very soon – so it made a lot of sense to use her as the starting point for my work, and my art has just sort of rolled that way since!
What do you use to create your illustrations?
I always start with a very rough sketch in whatever sketchbook or notebook I have to hand. Inspiration strikes me at the weirdest times so I’ve got little badly drawn sketches literally all over the place! Once an idea is out there and I fancy pursuing it, I use a Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet (which was a Christmas gift back in 2010) and Adobe Illustrator to bring my ideas to life. I’ve been doing practical art for years but digital illustration is something I’ve only really done this year (apart from my short-lived Anime drawing endeavours ten years ago). Although my knowledge of the digital illustration world is super limited, I’m really enjoying it and I can already feel myself improving with every piece that do.
Can you feel a changing attitude towards the word feminism?
Definitely! Even in the eight years since I’ve been following the movement, there have been shifts in the way that people view feminism and the power that it has. It’s difficult to pinpoint because, in a way, the idea of feminism and what it means to each individual is so abstract, but I personally think that the word is a lot less alienated now and people are a lot more open to understanding what it really means. I believe that feminism as a whole is seen as less of an extremist movement and more of something that is entirely necessary – which is exactly what it is! Of course, there will always be people out there who view feminism as a dirty word, and that’s exactly why there is still so much need for it.
What’s been your proudest moment to date?
In terms of The Goddess Revolution, my proudest moment was definitely the first time I unpackaged the first batch of prints that I ordered and realised that I had actually succeeded in creating something tangible! Of course, every day I feel proud knowing that people all over the world are inspired by my work and the messages that I attempt to portray. I’m just one woman trying to do her best to create a little bit of change and if my art shifts just one person’s perspective, I’ve achieved my goal.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?
Oh gosh, that’s a hard one! I have a lot of plans for the future of The Goddess Revolution already. In five years, I’d love to have my own website (which sounds trivial, but I deffo view that as a big achievement), I’d love to be making a living through art and art alone, and I’d love to be in a position where I’m able to use my art to fund and support women and projects all across the world. It’s early days yet for TGR and I’ve got a long way to go before I can start utilising profits to aid various women-supporting charities, but I’m getting there and I’m so excited to see where I’m at in five years!
Do you think we ever will live in a society where men and women are equal?
I bloody hope so! Maybe not in our lifetime, but I certainly hope my grandchildren or great-grandchildren or even great-great-grandchildren are able to say that they lived a life of full equality. We’re so incredibly far from an equal society and, although I feel privileged to be living in our modern world, there is still so much work that needs to be done. Despite this, I’ll keep supporting the feminist movement, raising awareness, and doing my bit to help create a more equal society for the future of my lineage and for the future of every woman that follows me. There’s always comfort in knowing that you’ve made a positive difference, no matter how small!