Ayesha Tan Jones aka Yaya Bones creates safe spaces and music for queer and nonbinary people to dance and express themselves
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Yaya Bones is all about using the human body as a channel for wisdom to flow through, wisdom that comes in the form of art, music and film. An only child who grew up on the borders of Wales and England in a small ancient town, much of Yaya’s childhood and many of their formative years were spent wandering through fields and swamps and Roman ruins with their best friends and bandmates.
“I am an artist primarily, but I see my craft span sculpture, music, film making and community work,” explains Yaya. And at the heart of all the art is an ambition to create work that immerses people, helping them to change their perspectives, evolve or grow. ‘Shadow Sistxrs Fight Club’ is a space created by Yaya where womxen, nonbinary, queer people and people of colour can learn self defence, cast spells and meditate. “I do this because I literally can't do anything else. These spaces nourish me; they are spaces in which I want to inhabit.”
This outlook is epitomised in the video for YaYa's new song 'Grandchildren'. The video is a celebration of queer community, for which YaYa invited their queer family to dance and cast spell's with their bodies. Styled from the collection of Paolina Russo, winner of the CSM's Loreal Professional Young Talent award, directed by Jade Jackman and with make-up by CoCo Hirani and Emily Burrill, the video is inspired by the niche apocalyptic kids TV show The Tribe and Computer Vision Dazzle paint. The concept? Breaking down binaries and borders, casting spells to dispel TERFs and the hetero-patriachy.
Describe your beauty aesthetic in three words.
Mythical, warpaint, clown.
What’s your earliest beauty related memory?
I can't pinpoint one specifically, but I do remember when I was 14 years old I had just been signed to Select Models and I was on my first ever photo shoot for a teenage girls' magazine. I was super nervous and coming from a small town up North, London was so new and alien to me. I recall the photographer and makeup artist who were both adult women, and both pretty intimidating, joking to each other about other models who have lip fuzz, and how gross it was, how they just wanted to wax it all off for them because it was a pain to photoshop out. They joked about it as I sat, cowering into the make-up chair while this lady caked my adolescent cheeks in foundation and I became hyper aware that my lip fuzz was showing and I grew so embarrassed and ashamed. It’s really important for adults to act responsibly on photo shoots; especially when there are young, nervous and impressionable models working in the industry. I love my lip fuzz now obvs, in fact I am thinking of growing it out more.
What’s your favourite smell and why?
This fluctuates often, I don't have faves, but at the moment I love the smell of burning rosemary, because this is what we burn in Shadow Sistxrs to cleanse the space. I forage it locally always. It’s better than importing sage from America. Real witches stay local!
If you could have a new sense on top of your existing ones, what would it be?
I would love to be able to experience a wider spectrum of frequencies like UV and infrared rays and to be able to turn that mode on and off.
It's the year 2080 and the two sexes have become obsolete in favour of one single type of human. Describe your perfect evening in.
Even in 2018 my evenings don't revolve around the gender binary... so my perfect evening in would probably remain the same as it is now. I also hope by 2080 much of the world will have formed small communes in the wilderness where people are living off the land that we have left (that’s not underwater) to thrive and that we are collectively raising our offspring and meditating together to calm the earth's frequencies. We will probably be sitting round the camp fire, that has been lit since the apocalypse began and not gone out since, it remains a beacon of hope for our small community. Around this fire we talk about our emotions, our astrological waves, we contemplate the stars and we watch the satellites float above us, obsolete in the earth's atmosphere. We talk about the next harvest, and the queering of plants, and maybe some of us have evolved to have gills so we can breathe underwater. Maybe there will be a war between the land peoples and the water peoples, but I hope we can all get along fine.
What is the future of beauty?
It is the next generations re-defining the idea of what 'beauty' is and breaking down industry norms. We will see differently abled bodies in magazines, gender nonconforming bodies fronting big campaigns, and we will hopefully see racial diversity and body size diversity as the standard and not as a trend.