For Tamatha Ann Harris, founder of Curves and Swerves, body positivity activist and fighter of the patriarchy, Instagram is a platform where she can share her art work, engage in conversation and challenge peoples views.
We now live in the age of social media. You’re only ever a couple of touches away from an uplifting anecdote with tips on self love or unrealistic imagery that spark anxiety and self loathing. We can’t control everything we see on Insta but we can certainly choose what influencers we follow. It’s all too easy to find beauty on instagram that misrepresents the female form and makes us feel inadequate but blogs like Curves and Swerves are slowly changing that, making our rolls beautiful and our stretch marks sexy.
I caught up with Tamatha to talk about how she’s gone from explicit artist to body positivity activist and how it feels to watch her business flourish.
How did it all begin with Curves and Swerves?
Drunk on Shiraz… I had an interest in art and drawing from an early age, its always been the very essence of me. I started drawing female nudes at around 14 and have appreciated the beauty and form of the body ever since. Over the years I developed a fascination with the relationship we have with our bodies and sex. I wanted a platform to explore and hopefully normalise all these things in a bold, classic and playful way but to also challenge peoples mind-sets.
Why did you choose the name?
The dictionary definition for Swerves is to change or cause a change in direction abruptly.
I quite like to think my art does that with peoples thought processes around sex, pleasure, nudity and body types. Curves because its 2019 honey – we love them and we’re proud of them!
Where do you take inspiration from for your art pieces?
I enjoy watching Pornography produced by Erika Lust. Her work is progressive and she promotes female pleasure very artistically. It’s very refreshing to see a focus on actual, sensual female pleasure. I also take inspiration from my own personal experience and conversations I have with people.
When did you start doing commissions?
This year. I was very surprised at the number of people wanting some nakedness or erotica on their walls! It’s an intensely intimate moment I get to share with someone and I feel honoured to get the opportunity to help people celebrate their bodies or illustrate their sexual fantasies. Your nudes are safe with me!
What have you learnt about yourself and other women through curves and swerves?
I’m not alone in learning to love and accept myself, it’s one of the hardest things to master in today’s society. Self Love is most certainly a choice and something we should all be militant about but we also need to have kindness and compassion for ours and everyone else’s journey. I’ve also learnt I quite fancy being a social norm corruptor. Loving yourself, your body and sex in the face of constant cultural messaging about your flaws and what’s socially acceptable, is subversive.
What’s your opinion on Instagram’s censorship and do you think we should be doing more as a society to reduce the taboo around nakedness?
A lot of my censorship is due to my content being ‘graphic’. If people under the age of eighteen are scrolling my art, they are more than likely trawling porn websites and masturbating too. If I’m honest young people could probably learn more from my art then from sites that are notorious for portraying women, pleasure, boundaries, the true nature of sex and healthy relationships in a misogynistic light.
As a society we should be encouraging healthy exploration and expression which leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of the self and therefore others. Censorship breeds fear and fear breeds hate, judgment and control. There is a definite undercurrent of patriarchal decision making when it comes to censorship on Instagram, there is very little done about violence, fake news and hate speech which I feel is a massive issue with today’s society.
Has anyone ever confronted you about how graphic some of your images are?
Absolutely. If anything people are very curious and often engage with me. It starts a dialogue I feel is very necessary to break down the stigma around nudity, pleasure and feminism. All good art starts conversation, welcome to my idiosyncratic monologue.
What’s your favourite medium to work in?
Ink , Charcoal, Graphite and Watercolour. I particularly enjoy the fluidity of watercolour
Have you ever spotted someone in the street in one of your tees/bags and how did it feel?
Yes!!! I love it, I always wonder what it means to them, why they have chosen it wear it and where they are going. Seeing people in my merch is also a sign that that people are opening their minds to a different way of thinking.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
I’d like people to be curious, empowered and aroused. Whatever we are, we need to own and be proud of. Sometimes that means wearing a ‘Vagina Magic’ sweatshirt or an ‘Is it in yet? T Shirt.
How did your parents react when you showed them your work/have they seen it?
I’ve realised that every generation have their different ideas on morals and values I’ve learnt a great deal from them challenging me and me challenging them on what social norms and body honesty means. I appreciate my art can really challenge people’s perceptions and moral view points. Some find it quite hard to get on board with and I respect that.
What advice can you give to anyone struggling with self confidence and body positivity?
Everything you feel is valid, you are important. Embrace self doubt, invite that bitch in for tea. Comparison will kill you; you are unique so you have no business there. Nourish relationships that serve your truest self. Chuck that insecurity in the fucket bucket and go take up space. OWN YOU AND THE REST WILL FOLLOW!
When you’re not doing art, what do you get up to?
Masturbating, Photography, Music Music Music and talking.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t open a watermelon you’re not going to eat.
If you like what you see and would like to order a print, tee or bag head over to the Curves and Swerves website.