For this project, I worked as part of a group of three girls. We wanted to present something which spoke of the subtle, but ever-present joy in platonic female friendships.
We chose to contact Ashleigh Williams and Georgina Tyson, the creators of the artistic platform Babeworld. Through Babeworld they address issues that include the stigma of sex work and the ablesim, racism and classism within the world of fine art. They write, lecture and make films about their personal experiences of these topics. Georgina is also Ashleigh's carer.
Despite the personal challenges both have experienced, they're intelligent, charismatic and a formidable duo. They have a friendship which seems unbreakable. we wanted to show women who could be classed as vulnerable, but gain strength from their relationship with each other. We felt their friendship was an excellent example of the maximum joy that exists in female friendship. We planned to take a series of photographs of Ashleigh and Georgina, which would be accompanied by some text.
Babeworld Page by Page
The front door was unlocked, as was the entrance to the flat on the top floor. They welcomed us from the sofa; Georgina, Ashleigh and Roxxxy the dog; all three x’s feature on Roxxxy’s diamonté encrusted collar. Ashleigh was in a matching baby pink pyjama set, and Georgina greeted with an intoxicating Liverpudlian accent. She wore fishnets with her sweet pink hair clipped back into bunches.
Georgina and Ashleigh are formidable as individuals, and the energy they create as a pair is both mesmerising and charged. They’re friends, ex-housemates, colleagues and Georgina is also Ashleigh’s carer. Their dynamic is joyous to observe and it’s hard not to feel envious of their seemingly effortless closeness. G and Ash co-founded Babeworld, an artistic platform where they use their shared knowledge and experience to create work and educate others. Babeworld also document their experience as sex workers. Most recently they published an open letter to the BBC after they were subject to mistreatment during the production of Louis Theroux’s 2019 documentary Selling Sex. Ashleigh was featured in the documentary as one of three sex workers Theroux focused on. The letter also raised awareness of the misrepresentation of sex workers and those with disabilities.
Their closeness feels essential and innate. The relationship between Georgina and Ashleigh transcends the space they occupy and all the tangible reminders of their bond which fill it. It also it goes beyond their shared adoration of acrylic nails, G most recently went for goth inspired whereas Ash went for pink diamonté, fyi. Their bond pushes the value of friendship. It demonstrates the subtle but ever-present undercurrent of joy which one both gives and receives in platonic female relationships.
Ashleigh on Georgina
Ashleigh on Georgina
My first impression of Georgina was this girl needs help. Nah, I’m joking, to be honest the first time we met it was in a weird situation - she was coming round to try and find a house for her and her son (her cat) and I wanted to help a fellow poor girl™ in need – so she moved straight in. She seemed standoffish and cold, but later I realised she was just overworked and underpaid. Before I met Georgina, I was ashamed to admit I grew up on a council block, ate pasta and sauce and wore primark trackies. She grew on me like a weird rash, I'm pretty sure I did the same to her.
Meeting G went from us both being like “who is this bitch.” to “she’s my bitch”. From then on, she’s become my art wife, best friend, carer and collaborator. I would probably have to throw myself off a cliff if she were to cut ties. I think I see so much of myself in her, she’s become one of the people I look up to the most- in a healthy way I promise! It’s rare to find a friend who you can admit your wrong-doings to and not be judged. It’s rare to find a friend who helps you use your wrong-doings to become a better person: G is that friend.
My favourite memory of G is when we landed our first commission. I told her and we both sat and were like ‘we got this, we can do this’ - emphasis on the ‘we’. Being estranged from your family and feeling no one understands you is so isolating, so to feel part of a community, even if it’s just the two of you, was such a big moment for me. She’s basically helped me embrace my authentic self (ew cringe) - but for real! Since meeting G I’ve become more politically engaged, able to express my blackness and owned my disability. She’s taught me to be unapologetically me, and for that I am forever grateful.
Babeworld wouldn’t exist without her. She showed me that being an artist doesn’t have to be this firm set of middle- class ideals, but rather a safe space for me to express and vocalise my feelings. She constantly uses her privilege (particularly of being white and non-disabled) to stand up for me, educate others and give me the support I need to do it for myself also. I’ll come in all guns blazing if you try and be ableist to me now, and I have G to thank for that.
If you were to ask my favourite way to spend time with G, I’d say a codeine- binge but I don’t want to glamourize prescription drug taking so it’d have to be a three course maccies with the footy on, sitting nowhere near each other because we hate bodily contact. The occasional awkward eye contact as we reach for the last crisp. I wish G had more confidence. I have a weird overconfidence which I’d slice in half and give to her if I could, because mine’s excessive and hers is massively lacking. Someone who actually has as much talent as her deserves to snap her fingers like a princess. It’s so important to have that one friend who you can just fully vent to. Georgina is a born listener, and a born learner. She takes it upon herself to continue to become educated about marginalised groups and find ways to support them. The world would be a better place if we had more Georginas.
Describe Georgina in three words.
Trauma, poor and underrated.
Ashleigh on Georgina
Georgina on Ashleigh
Georgina on Ashleigh
Ashleigh's effect on my personal growth has changed me, as boring as it may sound but like, in practical ways. Teaching me where to apply for help for my mental health, showing how to access benefits (actually she did the whole form for me), taking me to my first AA meeting and holding my hand. With patience, and just validating my addictions and illnesses, she’s given me the tools to make positive changes in my life.
Before we met, I hadn’t really had many successful friendships, I typically had a one-year expiration date on close relationships before they begin to break down; or they’d require distance because I’m so mentally messed up. Relationships are tough, yeno?
What may be surprising to people is that we’ve only known each other a couple of years, but in the grand scheme of things it’s been brief. And, within that time we’ve had so many life altering experiences, relationships, artistic opportunities, traumas, episodes, living situations and laughs. So much happens. First impressions of Ash were weird. I was looking for a room in a house- share where the deposit wasn't crazy, and they allowed cats. I thought she was too cool for me. Cool and well liked, seemingly without trying, and I was shy. In the beginning I feel like we thrived in co-dependency, spending every waking moment together and sharing a bed. There was comfort in this new-found friendship where there was a natural give and take. We were also in between turning points. For Ashleigh, it was education and for me it was work. Now our relationship has grown up and matured.
As nice as meetings at big institutions, hosting lectures and performing at events are, we can’t wait to get home for a maccies and discuss ideas, stories, aspirations. Ash credits everyone’s influence but often can’t acknowledge the independent creativity that lies within her. Within art institutions it’s easy to feel boxed off as a practical person or a conceptual thinker- it’s always logic versus creativity and sometimes we aren’t allowed to believe they can overlap. Her hidden talent is her artistry. Hidden from her by herself and hidden from her by the people that are supposed to shine a light on it.
We wanted to help each other excel emotionally, academically and creatively, to see each other’s potential. Being able to watch Ash achieve things brings me joy. To see her gain a first in her degree and a place at RCA makes me cry happy tears at the sight of personal and professional growth. I’m content that in our lives, events won’t always align. It’s okay to explore things as individuals whilst never failing to come back together and return to that sister-like dynamic that is always there.
Ash has that kind of natural incentive to work and organise, it’s something I was not born with. This extends into her personal life - she has successful interpersonal relationships and life-long friends. I truly believe it’s down to her ability of knowing how to compartmentalise everything as well as being a good friend, daughter and girlfriend. Me? I’d lose a friend down the side of a couch or leave my two-year late smear test at the back of a bus.
Describe Ashleigh in three words.
Tall, traumatized, gay.
Georgina on Ashleigh
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