Your body is not a temple

At seventeen, I started to starve myself,
I thought that love was a kind of emptiness.
And at least I understood then the hunger I felt,
and I didn’t have to call it loneliness
— Hunger, Florence and the machine

I hit puberty relatively late at the age of 14. Due to being anorexic at the time I didn’t develop properly and always hated my breasts and nipples. The internet wasn’t readily available then and I didn’t know anything about mammary glands, that I would be able to feel them under the skin or that they would be hard. I spent the longest time thinking I had cancer or that there was something very very wrong with me. This alongside body dysmorphia and depersonalisation left me with a very estranged relationship with my physical form.

When i was 18 I had a nervous breakdown. During then I discovered that hell is a place inside your head and little scared me after. I used to have a huge phobia of needles but this completely vanished and I started to modify my body. I found this greatly helped my dysphoria and every modification made served as a reality check point when dissociation was over powering.

Listen to me, your body is not a temple.
Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest—thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wildflowers sprouting in the underwood.
You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you are devastated.
— Beau Taplin
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As I grow older and started to understand more about my gender I realised I was non-binary. It started to feel increasingly unfair that my ‘female’ nipples were sexualised along side being demonised. I have never felt sexually or emotionally connected to that part of my body and I did not ever plan on becoming a mother. I didn’t like the way they looked or felt, I couldn’t find a reason for having them. This led me to search out someone who would surgically remove them for me. After researching and talking to both plastic surgeons and body modifiers I contacted Samppa who agreed to do it for me.

I spent a lot of time before hand making sure this was the absolute right thing. I mentally counted the reasons for and against and all the reason against were to do with what other people would think. You will never reach self acceptance if you live your life appeasing other people, you will never truly become your self. You have to do what is right by you and only you can decide what that is.

The surgery was painless and quite simple, taking around two hours in total. At one point I looked down when one nipple had been removed and saw the fat underneath like segments of an orange. All that fear I had growing up, the fear of what was in there under the skin, vanished. The severed nipple looked instantly dead and even more alien. It loses all form when removed and is just a lump of cold flesh. It was a wonder something so simple could make the world of difference.

life since my nullification has been so much more full of body positivity, like I shed two parasites. My breasts are not sexual objects and they are also not there to feed children. I feel that by nullifying them this has taken both those things away. I enjoy them now aesthetically, I finally like the way they look. My body is now for me and not for other people.

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When I am completely healed I will have a cover up done on both tattoos. I have kept the nipples and at some point in the the future will use them in an artwork (i have as of yet to decide how and they are currently residing in my freezer). later in life I want to have full top surgery but for now I am enjoying living life this way. Your body can be a journey of experiences, you don’t need to have a finite form. What matters is you live in as full a way as possible away from fear and shame.

and I said to my body softly-
I want to be your friend.
It took a long breath and replied -
I have been waiting my whole life for this.
— Nayyirah Waheed

Ruby Wolfe

Beautiful artwork by Ruby Wolfe based on my self portrait 'Man is the most Insane species'

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My inspiration for this was was from the Hubert Reeves quote-

Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping

I wanted to portray nature and man as a God that is both nurturing and destroying itself in unison whilst remaining unaware of what it is doing. The floral nasal cannula is nature growing and feeding life to itself, the nose bleed and the blood on the claws is the destruction from within coming outside of itself while the eyes remain blind to what it does.

Torture Garden March Ball

I had the great honor of being asked to put on a performance/show at Torture Gardens March Ball at Electorwerkz. Torture Garden has always been something I've held in high regard in terms of boundary pushing fetish nights combined with art performance. When I was thinking of what i wanted to do I knew I wanted to make it special and something to be remembered. 

I decided to base the look of the models bodies and movements on Butoh whilst all wearing my work on their heads and faces. This gave them a look of unison whilst each Bakeneko Designs piece worn was completely unique. Each model took to the stage individually then came back on together and stood at each side. Virgin X then came on and 'blessed' what was about to happen in the second act.
I come on stage leading Mike by a ribbon wrapped around two embellished cheeks spears. I throw him onto the stage, kick his legs out from under him them aggressively pull out the spears. He then drops to the stage as if dead. For the finale I have 'blood' pumped through tubes in my outfit causing it to 'bleed'. the show ends with me in a crucifixion pose before the music ends, lights drop and everyone exits the stage leaving Mikes body on until last.

I wanted each model to act in a way that was both sexual and un-nerving. The idea was not to turn on the audience but to disturb them, make them feel uncomfortable. From a personal point of view the idea of being on stage was terrifying so I wanted to channel that fear and turn it against the audience. I wanted to be feared rather then I be the one that fears them. At the same time I wanted the show to be visually enticing and exciting to watch. Like nothing that has been seen before.

I want to give a huge thank you to David for inviting me to make this show, to all my amazing models and my partner Sam for being my rock whilst I was preparing for this. The whole experience was like a dream come true and I have still yet to come down from the thrill of it.
 

Models (in order of apperance)-

Sam Costello
Benedict Douglas Stewardson/Rodent DeCay
Ruby Wole
Kris Canavan and Talli Lyndsey
Anton Jones
Drew Beckett
Aiden Moore
Virgin Xtravaganzah
Mike Shanti
Bonnie Bakeneko

Little bird

Before 'Bakeneko Designs' I had an art project/business called 'Amore de Mori' in which I made wearable taxidermy and osteological art. The inspiration behind it was a 3D moving 'Vanitas' with deaths part being played by the taxidermy/bones while lifes part portrayed in the model wearing it.

I think I was born like a clock a few seconds behind most people. I haven’t ever found my place or way and feel like I am never quite comfortable or ‘right’.
Once I used to look into the sublime and feel great horror. Nature truly terrifies me but in that same breath it pulls me back with fascination. It’s difficult as a conscious being to believe that we are organic and not immortal. When I think of my life I imagine the nothing before my existence and then try to imagine the nothing that will come after. Sometimes I find myself profoundly troubled that I will enter the abyss and I cannot comprehend that there will not be part of me that won’t transcend it. Mostly though I am comforted that one day I will go back to the earth and be no more.
I was struggling with insomnia and lying in bed with my eyes burning a void into the back of my head. Out of the darkness an intense mental image exploded into my mind. I could see all dieing animals crawling their way towards an amber beacon of light. In the centre of it stood the Virgin Mary, emanating a heavenly all encompassing glow. At her feet lay all that was dead. She was the eternal light of sleep and in it was salvation
There is in life a tentative moment where something has reached fruition and hangs in the balance before descending into rot. i want to capture that moment forever so I can better understand it.
I am exploring Vanitas through art and death in fashion to emphasize the frivolity and transient nature of beauty.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.”
Robert Frost
— amoredemori.com

After working on this for a few years i started to feel my morality and aesthetic shifting from its original course. I began thinking of the ethical ramifications of using another animal to highlight human beauty and felt uncomfortable in what I was doing. I still had a huge passion for taxidermy and nature but the pull to do this was coming from a place I did not quite understand yet.
I started to consider the difference an 'ugly' beauty would make where the wearer was more at odds with the animal. More so to have the animal wear them then the other way around. This is how I came to the idea for my 'little bird' mouthpiece. The birds and attacking the mouth of the wearer rather than being a complicit adornment.