When I was asked to exhibit my most provocative work in the town of Usk, Monmouthshire, my initial thought was ‘Wales is not ready for this amount of sex and empowerment’. I’m from the South Wales valleys; a location where masculinity has been pumped up so much that Wales’ industry and communities rely on it. It exists in our murals of past miners, all-male voice choirs and rugby clubs. My aim is to sex up Wales.
My idea is to make work that follows the ‘sexy but make it feminist’ notion in photography and film. Responding to 4th Wave Feminism, I construct situations that make the viewer uncomfortable and force them to have a conversation that relates to the images themes. With Nipple Zip, this is a provocative image that leaves nothing to the imagination, a soft pink nipple with strands of hair on the areola being forced shut by a cold hard zip. If you know my work, it’s a danger to social media sites. I’ve received threats, removal of posts and 24 hour bans from sharing work that gives the essence of sex and exposure of breasts. My offensive work continues to confront the public by photographing set ups relating to: up-skirting, female masturbation, period shame, hot flushes, plastic surgery and many more.
As well as concentrating on femininity, I’ve depicted masculinity in my work with Gypsophila. Internet dating is so normal now and the images that are exchanged freely with the intention to make one hard and wet through a phone screen. Titillation to extreme imagery of men showing images of hard greasy cocks on beds against their bed. The majority of the time we don’t ask for these images, however, they still come. In Gypsophila, I have portrayed this frustration by asking these men to let me photograph them in a soft focused and sensual state. I’m still waiting for these requests.
Another frustration of mine is being bombarded with images of the ‘idealised’ woman, especially on hosiery packaging. Tights, stockings and socks are historically sold with images of long legged women with beautiful hair; they are photographed lounging and contemplating life, whereas, in reality, tights roll themselves down our waists and whilst restricting our ability to naturally walk. These images are so traditionally female focused, the manufacturers seemingly forget that tights are used to help drag queens sculpt their bodies into various silhouettes and policemen wear tights underneath their uniform to promote blood circulation. Tights is my personal campaign if I were to be commissioned for a hosiery advert. I’ve played with perception, casted diverse models and crafted a new look ideology of undergarments by stripping away the soft porn look and adding a sense of individuality to it.
Outside of my editorial work, I document serious issues that have been misrepresented and are usually overlooked. South Wales is a major part of my life; I have documented my home community in the Rhondda Cynon Taf valley in collections such as The Valley Project and Dominatrix. In these projects I explore the world of submission and empowerment by photographing Mistress Sofia. Sex workers are continually condemned by society and not commended for their hard work and dedication. The role of a Dominatrix is to bring about, in their slaves and sissies, a state of ecstasy through any means necessary from whipping and BDSM to performing menial household duties. Once you are immersed into this world, you understand people and their needs. Black Gloves, shows this with Mistress Sofia’s delicate hands showing her favourite toys, a cock cage and ball whip.
I am inspired by people and their stories. For instance, in my series, Fenyw, I collected a diverse range of portrait subjects to explore the variations of womanhood through puberty, sex, identity, gender, community, mental and physical health. In my portrait of my sister Aderyn, who is 10 months younger than me, there is a sensitive portrait showing sisterhood at its most vulnerable, swimming in the comfort of childlike nostalgia of purple bubble bath soap.
The 4th Wave exhibition ran until the 9th March 2019 at Gallery at Home and will be showing a selection of Megan’s most sexual and intimate work.
Megan Winstone has been listed as a ‘photographer to watch’ by Lens Culture and has appeared in selected features, both online and in print: DAZED digital, Hysteria magazine, BRICKS, CCQ, Vogue Photo, Trip, OUT magazine, Buzz, G_irl Magazine, Polyester magazine and Around Town Magazine.
Recent solo includes: Fenyw, Arcade Cardiff (2017) and selected group shows: Ffotoveiw, Ffotogallery (2018), UNIT(e), G39 (2017) and collaborations with Tactile Bosch. Winstone also hosts zine workshops and has been commissioned by WOW festival (Women Of the World), Wales Millennium Centre and Chapter Arts Centre. Megan’s zine edition of her project, Fenyw, is archived at The National Museum of Wales.