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Page Three Girls

Katie Horwich on drawing clothes on top of the naked girls on page three in the Sun

What to do with all those scantily dressed girls on page three of the Sun? Do you just keep on flicking through the paper, ignoring their nakedness? But what if the article next to her bosoms is really interesting? One quite natural response - dressing the poor girl! - came from Katie Horwich, who eight years ago started illustrating and drawing her daily outfit on top of Shelley,18, Pamela, 22, Kate, 19 or whatever else the girls are called. Firstly it was only for private entertainment, but Katie soon put them on her blog and have now made it in to an exhibition. Dazed spoke to her about the British fascination with half naked girls in a newspaper...

Dazed Digital: Where did the idea to scribble on page Three girls come from?

Katie Horwich: It was a hot summer and I was working in a well-known high street chemist where the uniform was a floor length polyester number. I quite liked it, in a Space Age Florence Nightingale way, and felt like I had to celebrate it in a clothes diary. I was at art college at the time, and one morning found a copy of the Sun on the street. I took it home and painted my suffocating costume onto the page three girl, (think it was Nikkala) and suddenly wearing it didn’t seem so bad!  We were both in on it together, sweating through the synthetic fabric. For continuities sake I did the same the next day, but it was my day off and she looked much more cheerful  - and more like myself - once I’d painted her (it was Lara this time) in a 1950s frock I had with a bit of bra strap showing.

DD: Are you fundamentally against the page three girl culture?
Katie Horwich: The stories that are found on the pages of The Sun and other tabloids are the starting point for many of my art projects. I love the brashness of the language and imagery. It’s unique to British culture – albeit often from a bygone era which also appeals to me. It’s amazing that page three does still exist – a little reminder everyday that we’re not quite equal yet. Which other country would splash 'PAEDO BIKINI' on the front page and shift millions of copies – it’s really something exciting. But if my work sparks a debate about page three or the aspirations of young girls wanting to be a glamour model rather than a normal profession then that’s no bad thing.

DD: Are the sketches always what you wear or are you also a budding designer sketching away design ideas?
Katie Horwich: Yes, they’re what I wear everyday – moments of glamour but many many entries in a navy hoodie from Uniqlo – I’ve got a sporty lifestyle. But often my friends give me clothes, some of whom are fashion designers and I will paint their clothes in within my project so there’s a bit of a collaborative aspect. Also a couple of things that I’ve made but not too much. I do like a novelty country and western outfit and will dress up for the purpose of the page three girls sometimes. And have a lovely collection of 1950s frocks that I dust off when feeling cheerful. Looking back through the piles of pictures are memories – of failed dates in overly tight outfits – queuing up at the dole office in shapeless primark acrylic, fat months, thin months, pyjama clad hangovers, fancy dress.

DD: What's the reaction been to the blog and expo?
Katie Horwich: Had a really positive response to both – got some new unknown followers on my blog so that’s flattering. Had a few offers from people offering to send me a copy of Razzle, but there are not enough hours in the day to tackle that one!

DD: Have you really bought the paper every day for the past eight years?
Katie Horwich: I’ve not bought the paper but find a discarded copy – that’s how the project started and has become my manifesto in a way- life has panned out according to where I can be surrounded by old copies of papers be it an office administrator at a building firm, in a picture agency, and now living on top of a betting shop.  There are plenty around to be found, some more grease stained than others but I’m pleased to say I’ve not had to scrape off anything too disgusting of the lovelies yet! Mustn’t tempt fate mind.

DD: Do you have a fave page Three girl?
Katie Horwich: Well, I am showing a new piece of work featuring Lauren, 21, from Portsmouth – whenever there’s a scrap outside a nightspot involving glamour girls and footballers, she’s never too far from the scene. The rest of them, they’re all right… like me they’ve been in their early twenties for years.

DD: You have been 'touring' the project - any other exciting plans?
Katie Horwich: Yes, so I went to Austria to find Kronenzeitungs – The Austrian version of the Sun – Think it’s going to have to go global – any country with an organised recycling infrastructure and a page three girl’s on my list! Next stop is to Chile in search of La Cuarta.

Page Three Girls is showing at Deptford's
Utrophia Project Space until 26 June, 2010