The Occasional Journal

The Dendromaniac

March 2015

This is a femme slam.

Sian Torrington
Your uncontained movement has opened a new room in me, mixed media, 2013. ©Sian Torrington

Your uncontained movement has opened a new room in me, mixed media, 2013. ©Sian Torrington

Your uncontained movement has opened a new room in me, detail. 2013. ©Sian Torrington

Your uncontained movement has opened a new room in me, detail. 2013. ©Sian Torrington

Your uncontained movement has opened a new room in me, detail. 2013. ©Sian Torrington

Your uncontained movement has opened a new room in me, detail. 2013. ©Sian Torrington

Your uncontained movement has opened a new room in me, detail. 2013. ©Sian Torrington

Your uncontained movement has opened a new room in me, detail. 2013. ©Sian Torrington

This is a femme slam.

You say no-one can read you and I think I AM TRYING
my hip says; I don’t trust you.


I thought, I can’t possibly be a lesbian, cos the beings I relate to are those divine drag queens.

La Lionne, queen, proud, hard headed, tutu, goddess, darling, sugar blossom, princess, baby, witch, bitch, slut, loveliness, the girl who shines with smarts, hards, softs, pirate, proud glitter crazed hot haired high homo

I submit. I admit. I say please, dance with me

Soft is stronger than hard
I can’t be reasonable, it’s just too limited.
My washing lines my room while I grasp for words and bravery to reach,
to be fearless.

I invited you because I didn’t want anyone to be alone. However it is, we should be able to be close to one another. When it is awkward, when we hold, when it is hard, when there is not light, when the glitter has run down the drain, when your body remembers, when my body remembers and dreams the shame you poured me let it be different. Let us be brave, let us be here.

“You have so, much

I have been called many things in my life. And then lately someone called me a peacock. They made me screech and perform on a street corner, dancing on kerbs and feeling my spin stretch and lift sky proud, shimmering feathers, showing off.
Their butch found my femme, and there was joy and terror in it. Terrified of revealing, showing, wearing skirts, which have always felt absolutely like sex to me. Of not being queer enough, political enough. If I care so much about expression and beauty and process and art and I don’t know the right words for anything, but I want to, is that enough? And if I can’t walk in high heels or write as well as I want, is that enough?
And if what I want to do when they tell you ugly things in your ear and threaten you and block my path is smother them with colour is this enough? And if when they make me fear to walk my own town without a big black coat if all I want to do is make an army of glittery dripping soldiers who flood bigness and love and wash the streets with shiny paths is this resistance enough?

We are in this together

Write to her

Your one abandoned movement has opened a new room in me.
It is filled with treasure.

I got lost in Galeries Lafayette. I was at the perfume counter and everything was gold and sweet and pink. My ancestors sailed and fought and fell out for generations over gold. I waited there, waited for my ‘real parents’ to come pick me up. The ones who are millionaires. The ones who will buy me all of these gold things.

She says, sitting here, on this sofa, beside my daughter, I have to tell you, you have no idea what it is like to be a woman in this world.

I will always use everything I have to defend you. I have your back and I will put my body before them.

Write to him

What have I not told you? I have not told you this.
That I would fight bare knuckle to be loved my whole life by bois like you,
To find these places which are always being found, and always being lost and trying to speak
I would blood my elbows to get into here, to get the hands like yours all the way until I catch my breath, and
catch you.

I have not told you that this trying lusting experiment this reaching for more this balancing on faith is all there is,
and all I want there to be, and all I look for nets when my head swims and loses its ground those nets are also made by us, by our kind, by all of our kind.
There is kindness in queer.
I have not told you because the tide moves so fast and I am searching for words and moved before I can say hey
that was important.

I have not told you that yes we love in different ways and we love different things, but when we love each other, it is the right thing.

I have not told you that every sequin, every shine that reflects us both, every fierce every high heel every telling every showing it is for me,
and it is for you, because you, see me.

And that I defend this kingdom of mine tooth and nail and fight and beg and kneel before it and water it knead it rise it raise it hide it shelter it, because I know,
what home is worth. Because I know the last ten years have recovered the former through digging in fits and starts what has been covered with a slow accretion of body saying


What have I not told you? And what I cannot tell you in words I make in charcoal I slide against the wall with black in both my hands, it is still and flat, then soft and curved. I can’t hold and fall with one long pencil line to the floor, my knees raise me not because I want to but because I have to reach, I feel your hands. This is where the pink goes later, flooding down one side and cracking open the black hood I hid in with eyes closed and forearms flat against the wall allowing, remembering.

About the artist

Sian Torrington makes art, poetry and performance. She practices activism through making things with openness, vulnerability and passion. She comes from a long line of self created glamour queens, gold and beauty obsessed adventurers, city builders, risk takers, stubborn visionaries, queers, story tellers, psychics and survivors.

’Soft sculpture’ is not necessarily friendly, or even particularly soft. Sometimes it’s wayward, knotty, and irrepressible; sometimes it has an alarming number of limbs. Torrington has always been interested in the relationship between sculpture and drawing. Her soft sculptures investigate the ‘place’ where a drawing meets its three-dimensional environment, and what occurs when a line becomes material: a bundle of fabric, leather or rope, or simply a piece of string.

Catalogue writing by Abby Cunnane for The Obstinate Object, City Gallery Wellington 2012

Sian graduated from Massey University with a first class MFA in 2010, and was shown in the sculpture survey show The Obstinate Object in 2012. In 2013 she was commissioned to make a large scale installation work as part of the Christchurch Art Gallery Outer Spaces project. She has had numerous solo and group shows, published work, and works from a studio in Lyall Bay, Wellington.