An imaginary garden with real toads in them
3D collage / photograhy

Book, 20x25cm, 60 pages

In 2018, the UK government initiated a public consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act to make the process of legal gender recognition less intrusive and bureaucratic. The proposed changes included allowing individuals to self-identify their gender without requiring medical evidence or the approval of a panel of experts.

However, this proposed reform faced significant opposition from TERFs who argued that making the process easier could lead to potential misuse, or undermine the rights of cisgender women. They raised concerns about access to single-sex spaces, such as women's shelters and public restrooms.

At present (July 2023), there is no process in any part of the UK by which transgender people may achieve legal recognition of their acquired gender based on self‑declaration only. Many transgender people feel the current process is “overly intrusive, humiliating and administratively burdensome,” and they argue “by requiring a diagnostic psychiatric report, the process perpetuates the outdated and false assumption that being trans is a mental illness.”Gendered Intelligence, a trans-led and trans-involving grassroots organisation, added that “non-binary people will continue to be excluded from legal gender recognition through the binary nature of this consultation and the law to which it pertains.“

As government policy continues to render non-binary people (such as myself) invisible and ignored, partly due to the challenge we pose to the binary diagnostic ideology described above, I have carved out a space of sanctuary in response. An imaginary garden with real toads in them is an exploration of my own transness. Through the lens of Sci-fi aesthetics as shaped by authors Pamela Sargent, Ursula LeGuin and Octavia Butler, the series revolves around themes of inheritance, chosen family, pregnancy/sterility, ugly offsprings, sexual and asexual reproduction, human and non-human relationships.

The title refers to the poetry of late modernist poet Marianne Moore and her particular stance on the relationship between human (the reader) and non-human (the subject/poem). Through fleeting encounters, incompletely grasped situations or deceptive titles, her poetry maintains a sense of keeping things alive by a refusal of dominance over another one’s body. Moore did not want to master the animals she writes about and nor does she want the reader to know them fully—because total knowledge also involves mastery. For me, this idea of mastery maps onto the UK government’s approach of demanding a medical diagnosis in order to fully ‘see’ and ‘validate’ transness.  

Moore lived most of her life in Brooklyn with her mother, and apart from a couple of visits to the zoo, the animals she writes about/for/with were never encountered in the flesh, but rather in magazines or book - an anti-practice of the ‘cabinet of curiosities’ that many of her contemporaries exercised. My use of 3D imagery, virtual fur, 3D collage and other imagined animalistic shapes is similarly speculative, allowing for a state of undying and future potential existence.

Throughout the series, there is a leitmotif of chest imagery. The human torso is a mythologised, politicised and gendered part of the body. Societal struggles play out from the human torso as focal point and metaphorical battle ground, over issues such as sexualisation, breastfeeding, ideals of the ‘right’ kind of torso to fit a binary gendered system, representation of post-op bodies, and much more. An imaginary garden with real toads in them gives form to my continuously evolving realm of gender fluidity, occupying a transness that refuses pathologization. Mixing images of my torso with non-human elements and/or changing its shape allows me to explore notions of ‘becoming with’ – outside of binary oppression.

Transitional object
Archival pigment print on self-adhesive Hahnemühle and archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, framed, 425 x 225 cm

Working with young children, Donald Winnicott (1951),  introduced the concepts of transitional objects and transitional experience in reference to a particular developmental sequence, an intermediate developmental phase between the psychic and external reality.

In the Transitional object series I explore the intimacy of the healing process from dissociative amnesia disorder - a condition I have experienced from my teenage years to my mid-late 20s: the time when I began to create the images of this series.

Dissociative amnesia is characterised by memory challenges and lapses, which most likely developed to protect an individual from the trauma they experienced. A memory gap may be specific to a past traumatic event or a broader length of time. The gap may be narrowly focused on certain details of an event or time frame, or it may be broad, and the individual loses memory of their own life history and the understanding of what makes up their identity. 

The photographs were created before, during and after my awareness of having this condition. The images can be thought of as a documentation of my state of mind whilst I made my way through. Often made in my own room – like a child playing in theirs, with a sense of security - aided by an accompanying process of therapy sessions, meditation and image building and lucid dreams, the protective wall that was preventing the access of some forgotten memory slowly broke down.

The series takes the form of a tale, narrated via a constellation of events, characters and landscapes: a dried male sea-horse (the male bears a brood pouch in which a female lays eggs, until they hatch) is a the feeling of my own femininity/trans-identity ‘drying up’ in the environment I grew up in; a floating axolotl (which reaches adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis) represents the idea of the queer core I need to protect myself; the hornet nest is female structure and society; the spiral in the hair of a man is the idea of a repetitive cycle.

Kathryn Crabb, a contemporary psychotherapist, confirms the inherent link between trauma-healing and tales: “The importance of the Old Stories unfurls far beyond entertainment or historical interest. Their therapeutic value is less in their overt content than in their symbolic depths: the Old Stories are archetypal. That is, they bring to life invisible blueprints for diverse parts of the human psyche, intangible reflections of the basic impulses that exist within each of us.”


Transitional object was nominated at the Swiss Design Awards 2015 : link

Exbhition at the Swiss Design Awards, Basel, 2015

Earth absorption - memory landscape
16mm film transfer on digital
0:36 in a loop

Space Sporification
Durational performance
Kunstmuseum St-Gallen, Switzerland
Curated by Martina Morger and Laura Van Der Tas
Being a facilitator
Persons in the space, touching, holding Herma
Outerspaces voices
A dancing spaceship
A foam machine spreading the spores
3 sensors “Herma” shared in the crowd, measuring a collective rhythm 
- list of participants (video game engine narration):

Cheyenne Bouchet
MV Brown
Eline Bry
Eden Dodd
Hannah Edward
Axel Gutapfel
Brontë Jones
Harvey Lancaster-Rous
Aga Mlynczak
Francisco Ortega
Alba Sofia
Adam Stearn
Clarinda Tse
Alex Turner
Jack Wannsborough
Miranda Stuart

Programming :
Selina Leung (aileenacs)

Post-performance documentation of one of the sensor “Herma”


Photography of the performance by mani froh and Fabienne Watzke

Video captures of the game “Spore Sporification”

Space Sporification
Durational performance
Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow
Part of Double Thrills Curated by Buzzcut

Photography of the performance by Tiu Makkonen
Make-up and facial adorment paint by MV-Brown

The alien worm lover I fantasize about
Photographs on C-Print, 90x72cm each
Part of the show “FOR ADULTS ONLY”, curated by Club Kin.X at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow

Along with a multitude of incredibly talented artists. Displayed via multidisciplinary mediums.

With work in the images from
Medea Solon @highpriestess_medea,
Zoeli Winters @zoeliwinters,
Erin Jamieson @erdo_j