Powerful female nudes raise funds for domestic abuse survivors

Lorien Haynes Hampstead artist

Hampstead artist Lorien Haynes at work on her nudes which feature in Pieces of A Woman at Burgh House - Credit: Mark Brown

Powerful images of the female body go on show at Burgh House to mark International Women's Day and raise funds for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

Pieces of A Woman features large scale charcoal nudes by Hampstead artist and writer Lorien Haynes. A launch event on March 9 includes a video introduction by singer Annie Lennox, who founded women's rights charity The Circle, plus readings from Haynes' survivor play Punched, and the premiere of Saffron Burrows' short film about a South African rape crisis centre supported by The Circle.

Janet

Janet - Credit: Lorien Haynes

Haynes, whose work hangs in the homes of Courteney Cox and Matt Damon, will donate a percentage of profits to The Circle and domestic abuse charity Refuge. As a sexual abuse survivor she's keen to draw attention to issues of sexual violence and support fellow survivors.

"I feel the exhibition is a marriage between the art and the issue. The drawings are an entry point for the subject matter. It's not about selling work, for me someone else to benefit."

Hampstead gallery Zebra One helped organise the exhibition and showcases 15 of Haynes' prints – named after women who inspire her – in their Perrin's Court space.

Lorien_ Lou-002, 12/15/14, 4:24 PM, 8C, 7868x11824 (828+0), 150%, FourLightRepro, 1/25 s, R31.4, G

Lou by Lorien Haynes - Credit: Lorien Haynes

“Lorien is a truly remarkable woman and artist," said owner and curator Gabrielle Du Plooy. "Her work is a powerful and visceral celebration of the female body as a landscape, spilling across layers of paper. It couldn’t be a more perfect exhibition for International Women’s Day."

Haynes praised Du Plooy for championing a female artist exploring the female form.

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"It's a landscape, not something that should be hidden away," she says. "I like drawing men but it's a very different experience. Women's bodies are more interesting, the line, the curves. It's forced me to address my own evaluations of the female body and our body dysmorphia - few women I know are comfortable with how they look. But I've learned the sense of a woman comes out of her, irrespective of what she looks like."

An artwork in the Pieces of A Woman exhibition by Lorien Haynes

An artwork in the Pieces of A Woman exhibition by Lorien Haynes - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

The figures are rarely identifiable. "Put a face to a body and that's when the objectification starts. It identifies them in their vulnerability and celebrates strong female figures. I love the idea of women expanding over pieces of paper. I want them to be alive, larger than life. Almost like Avatars."

Haynes started as an actor, but went "slightly insane" when out of work, so pursued creative writing and her lifelong love of painting and drawing. During an 11-year spell in Los Angeles she joined a life drawing class, and her artworks took off, with exhibitions and celebrity clients.

"My work is so big and the houses are so big I think they went together. I love that people get pleasure from seeing them every day, just as I surround myself with art that makes me feel better."

It was when co-writing the 2014 film An Open Secret that involved interviewing child abuse survivors in Hollywood, that she realised she was suffering from anxiety and PTSD.

Back a work by Lorien Haynes

Back; a work by Lorien Haynes - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

"It made me address the fact that I had experienced sexual abuse myself. I'm grateful it came up. I had to deal with it and have done a lot of positive work in the survivor space which has been good for my mental health."

But she "missed London terribly" and moved back to Hampstead a year ago where she "can't really live without the Heath".

Haynes has been busy with projects such as Punched, which saw the likes of Sadie Frost, Annie Lennox and Lesley Sharp read monologues by survivors of sexual violence intertwined with her own personal experience, to raise awareness of the "shadow pandemic of domestic abuse during lockdown".

She also wrote the black comedy Everything I Ever Wanted To Tell My Daughter About Men, first performed at The Globe, now a film of 23 shorts by 21 different women. It traces a woman's relationship history moving backwards, through teen pregnancy, sexual assault, infidelity and addiction, and was intended for her teenage daughter to learn from the mistakes that she made.

"You want to protect your kids from something that happened to you but of course there could be something you didn't foresee," she admits.

"It's not a control thing or to frighten them, it's generational candour. I feel as if I learned the hard way all the time, and by being honest I can help her avoid that, especially if you choose times in their life when it's relevant, like 'please be careful because I got pregnant at 16 the first time I slept with someone and it took a long time to get over it.'"

As a proactive working single mum she hopes she's set an example to her daughter's generation.

Lorien Haynes

Lorien Haynes - Credit: Mark Brown

"All these issues are still there for women; having a child, being a working mother, lack of support, but hopefully they will challenge the status quo more than we did."

Pieces of A Woman is in the Peggy Jay Gallery Burgh House from March 10-14.