London-based illustrator Polly Nor pays homage to the 21st century girl – her feats and flaws included. From relationship mishaps to weekend regrets, she offers a droll and candid expression of female sexuality that’s a welcome detour from the tedious image of objectified women, promulgated through mainstream media and pornography. “I am questioning the ubiquitous male vision (of women),” she tells us, offering instead an “alternative view on sexuality, relationships and emotions from a modern-day female perspective.”
Taking inspiration from “funny texts, angry tweets, memes and selfies”, as much as typical “girl chat”, her illustrations often begin with a “line of dialogue or image in mind” before putting pen to paper. Unlike writing, though, for this Loughborough graduate, “illustration is the easiest and most natural way” to broach her subject:
“If you were to write a piece about your feelings on gender issues you would have shit loads of comments calling you out over every detail and people writing insults at you in capital letters YOU ARE SO WRONG U FEMNAZI, I BET YOU ARE FAT, NOBODY WANTS TO HAVE SEX WITH YOU - GET OVER IT. People take what they want from an image but words are very concrete.”
That said, Nor’s take on sex-surfing, selfie-taking girls is unambiguously satirical, a tone she blends with a sincere dose of female empathy that would make Lena Dunham proud. And when it comes to drawing ex-lovers, they appear, like her visualisations of suppressed desires, as lingering devils, hard to fight and even harder to forget. But in her salmon-pink and cactus-green world, desire also comes in the form of “outlandish, tropical wildlife”. Contrasting this with “everyday household scenes”, Nor’s illustrations hint at a hunger for “escapism and freedom from the pressures of mundane western culture”.
Polly Nor's exhibition Sorry Grandma: An Exhibition of Obscene Drawings by Polly Nor runs 18 and 19 September at 71a Gallery, London