Alisha Brighton names her paintings after her friends.
One is called Anna, another is Natalie and another is Rhani.
His paintings are not faces, but vulvas.
The amateur artist said the choice to name the works after her friends made some think she had done live sessions.
“People think I’m actually painting my friend’s vulvas, which no, I’m not – yet!” she laughed.
But they are inspired by her friends, some of whom have suffered from conditions like endometriosis and others who have been sexually assaulted.
Some vulvas have red dots that represent endometriosis.
Others were rendered in cold pastels.
All the designs are quite different.
“A lot of people go through a lot when it comes to their vulva and it can cause them a lot of stress and shame,” Brighton said.
“I think so [differences] should not [cause shame] at all…every vulva is unique and every person is unique, and they should be proud of what they have.”
Brighton donates half of the money from the sale of his works to charity.
She’s donated hundreds of dollars so far.
The remaining money is spent on supplies and some of his time.
“We started with Endometriosis Australia as one of the charities to support, and then we looked at some of the sexual assaults as well, because I know a lot of people who have kind of had that experience,” she said.
Customers could choose whether they wanted to donate to Endometriosis Australia, Teach Us Consent or both.
‘What the hell could I paint?’
Brighton, a dietician, moved to the regional town of Tamworth in New South Wales and started the side hustle, which she had named The Lady Bits.
“I’ve never really been such an artist,” she said.
She said she wanted a hobby.
“I was struggling to find things to paint, and one day I thought, ‘What the hell can I paint?'”
She said vulvas looked quite fascinating to her.
“They’re pretty nice to look at,” she said.
First laugh, then talk
The decision to tap into her hobby to help was inspired by the story of Grace Tame and her work raising awareness of sexual assault.
There were also influences a little closer to home.
“There was a lot going on and at the time my friend had endometriosis and I kind of saw the effects it had on her,” Brighton said.
“I kind of put all these ideas together and thought, ‘Why don’t we sell these paintings and raise money for things related to women and things that are close to our hearts?’ “
But there was also a not-so-subtle byproduct of people hanging vulvas on their walls that she loved.
“I’m also very into taboo topics and I think talking about the vulva is definitely a good place to start, just sparking conversations about women-related topics,” she said.
Her roommate Anna Falkenmire, the proud owner of one of the artworks, had to explain to her mother that the painting on the wall was not inspired by her own vagina.
“He definitely lived his purpose…starting this conversation, but no, these aren’t portraits of anyone in particular,” Ms Falkenmire said.
She said she was proud to support work that aimed to help those affected by endometriosis and sexual assault, especially since she had people in her life who had experienced both.
But she said it was also important to hang the piece loud and clear in her bedroom.
“Having the confidence to hang it on everyone who walks into my room is kind of front and center.
“It also feels good to have hung it up, like I’ve added a little piece of that conversation to the world as well,” Ms Falkenmire said.
“It’s such an important conversation and it shouldn’t be awkward to talk about…half the world has a vulva, so it’s definitely something not to be ashamed of,” Alisha Brighton said. , which has one. pictures hanging in his bathroom.
“I think when people look at the painting they kind of know what it is and it can be quite an awkward and funny thing that they might laugh at at first, but it definitely brings up the conversation,” Brighton said. .