Who am i? with Alex Noble.
Alex Noble is an artist and ex-fashion designer based in the seaside town of Margate, UK. He recently joined one of the Create Space 'Who am i?' virtual retreats for gay men, and has kindly agreed to share his story and experience.
Who are you?
My name is Alex, I’m a multi disciplinary artist and my work now looks at identity and existence. Predominantly focused on the oppressed gendered feminine in the male and the experience of gender as a Hetrotopia. I often use myself as my subject and have found my art practice as an intrinsic part of my own investigation and restoration into self after a life time of challenges with my cognitive behaviours, my gender identity and destructive behaviours and addictions related to these challenges. I grew up in London and had a career in the fashion industry and loved living in East London until the culture there wasn’t benefiting me anymore and I was very unhappy and stuck in old habits. I know live by the sea in Margate with my pets and I am half way through a Masters in fine art.
How did you find yourself doing what you are doing?
I had to go through a period of being really lost. A few years ago I knew that change had to happen. I'd moved from London to Margate and was still doing some work with pop stars, but that work had no real meaning to me anymore. I had to completely stop and sit with not knowing. It was amazingly hard as I'd always had a plan and a vision.
I actually debated retraining as a councillor to bring my holistic practices closer to my professional life. But in the end, through my yoga practice I was reminded that I'm an artist, a visual communicator and a thinker, interested in culture and have a history in activism. It took a while, but things started to fall into place and the MA opportunity appeared. Now I'm a student again and bolstering my practice and my knowledge. My aim is to simply gain a better understanding of myself and create work and is progressive for society and culture.
What have you learnt along the way?
I've learnt that you never stop learning. It's an ongoing process of looking, asking, being vulnerable, being open, accepting, forgiving and shaking it all off. If it’s painful, then it needs to be processed, otherwise it will just keep coming back. We are stronger understanding all aspects of ourself.
I know now that no one is going to do this for me but good friends will be there to help and support me; and I've also learnt that sometimes I am the problem and not others. Changing the behaviours that we project onto other people is a great burden to lift.
How was your experience of the ‘Who am i?’ Programme?
I felt very lucky to be invited to take part. The weekend retreat was really insightful and reassuring to find this common ground between a group of gay men who were all strangers.
Did you make any changes off the back of the ‘work’ you did?
I certainly gained some new insight and information. I was also able to vocalise an issue that I'd always had. That ‘masculinity’ and being ‘male’ is a big trigger for me. So many times through my life, experiences related to this have been traumatic, caused triggers and now exist as complexes. So I've been trying to heal that through my study and practice.
What relationship do you have to the LGBTQ+ community?
Now it's very local and positive as I curate exhibitions of queer artists. My goal is to represent artists with other voices, outside of stereotypes who are less seen but are the heterogeneous of the community. I'm also one of the organisers of Margate Pride Festival and hadn’t really felt connected to Pride until being in a smaller community where visibility and inclusion are so important. The focus is creating bonds between the LGBTQ people and the town.
What are you currently working through?
Probably my gender identity and specifically how to publicly identify - my pronouns etc. I am working on understanding myself as a trans person who is living as male and AMAB (does that void my trans identity?) but has experienced different genders in their life. Questioning gender structures and a child’s experience of gender. Then how I relate to other men sexually and romantically, exploring the fetishisation of masculinity.
How do you ‘Create Space’?
I now know that I need time to recharge my batteries. That means down time, the right amount of sleep, healthy food and exercise. I don’t push myself if I'm not in the mood. I love seeing friends and socialising when I’m at high energy but that actually doesn’t happen that often, and thats ok. I spend a lot of time walking the dog, swimming in the sea, meditating at home and making work. They all help balance the way I approach this mentally.
If you're interested in joining the 'Who am i?' programme, you can find out more here.