Heritage & Culture

Changing room

Each year arts organisation Metal invites a number of artists into residence. The artists spend time in the city undertaking research to inform new performances and artworks. What does it mean to be in residence during isolation and how can artists still explore the city and meet local residents to explore new ideas? This month sees Metal introduce artist Jane Hoodless

Can you tell us about your work
I’m a visual artist inspired by the criminal, cultural and the curious. The thread that runs through my work is the desire to know why people do what they do. Or rather, did what they did. I’m interested in storytelling, surreal marriages of objects and ideas, and inspired by uncommon aspects of social history. The materials or techniques I use are determined by concept and are frequently turned on their head, such as a wedding cake woven out of hair.

What are you developing whilst in residence at Metal Peterborough?
I’m undertaking research for my project CHANGING ROOM that addresses history and hysteria surrounding menopause. Our understanding of menopause depends on who is doing the talking, the language they are using, the audience, the time, place and context. Information regarding how women dealt with menopause historically has proved scant or misogynistic. I’ve had foggy conversations with otherwise clear-headed friends, and read readers’ forthright responses to articles that have been seemingly rooted in ignorance. It seems crazy for something that happens to over half the population to be so poorly prepared for – and apparently still taboo.

Have there been any interesting findings at this stage?
I’ve had to rethink the work I intended to undertake, given our collective situation of social isolation – a status that in some ways echoes that of menopause. My ultimate goal is for CHANGING ROOM to become a touring exhibition along with workshops and talks that increases the visibility of this ill-informed topic with the intent of quashing these taboos and widening discourse. One overriding consistency throughout all my research is that everyone’s experience is different. “Every woman is different, and every woman knows her body better than anyone. What works for one may not work for another.” Having recently been making work inspired by historic menopause experiences, I now want to hear from women in the present.

What do you hope to achieve with the work?
I want this body of work to challenge negative associations, shed new light, encourage interaction and debate; and for the related experiences to be inclusive, informal, educational, and infused with humour. Everyone I speak to reaffirms the need to make menopause more mainstream. I’m an artist, not a natural campaigner, so have been surprised at how strongly motivated I’ve become in my quest to widen the reach of menopause as a social issue. In drawing attention to a topic that continues to generate confusion and social awkwardness, I hope my work will encourage and inform younger women, men and children too – because every person will either experience the menopause, or live with someone who will, or is, or has….

How can people get involved?
Workshops and one-to-one conversations are on hold, but peer support is powerful and compelling, so I want to facilitate some conversations about menopause – both virtual and actual. I am compiling a questionnaire about menopause, and want to hear about your experiences: positive, negative and/or anything in between. Participants can be of any age, with direct experience of menopause – or not. Rather than presenting an A-Z of the subject, my work is a personal, yet universal interpretation of menopause, inspired by socio-historic, scientific and cultural references

DISCLAIMER: ● Your replies will only be viewed by me, and I will not share the content with any third parties. The information or quotes that you share in response to the questionnaire may be used to inform the project (directly or indirectly) and, if so, will always be used anonymously. ● If you are interested in participating in my research, and completing a questionnaire, please contact:

For further details visit metalculture.com or www.janehoodless.com

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