Marlene’s merkin magic

STUDIO LIFE:  Marlene Houston in her studio at the Creator Incubator, Hamilton North. Picture: Melinda McMillan
STUDIO LIFE: Marlene Houston in her studio at the Creator Incubator, Hamilton North. Picture: Melinda McMillan

WITH so many women having their pubic hair permanently removed by laser light, one Newcastle creative has been left wondering what would happen if unruly strands from the nether regions suddenly came back into vogue. 

Marlene Houston is a sculptor whose work focuses on the human form. Much of her art-making has highlighted human rights issues. 

“I’d get cranky about things and make something from the human form that represented what I was cranky about,” Houston said. 

“But I have had a this breakthrough, I’m still interested in the human form, but I’m going with the flow, rather than trying to make a statement.”

While Houston continues to explore “the flow” she is also working on a side project, through which she has created 18 merkins.

A merkin is an artificial covering for the pubic area. 

“The merkins are about my knowledge that women laser their pubic hair off,” Houston said.

 “And where that imagery comes from? I believe it is driven by the porn industry. It can make women look pubescent, and the ramifications for that.

“But on the flip-side, women can look however they want.”

Houston’s merkins include the gherkin merkin, the disco merkin, the magnetic merkin and the man-bun merkin. She expects to exhibit the merkins in 2019. 

Houston likes to experiment with a wide array of materials. 

“I love pouring metal, I love modelling in wax and Plasticine. I love to be able to feel the material, it’s so tactile,” Houston said.  “I love the raw power of the foundry.  I love carving wood, because it’s so methodical.”

Houston spent 30 years working as a hairdresser before this year deciding the give her career the snip to focus on full-time art making. 

She has studied fine art at Newcastle Art School, where she won her spot by presenting a portfolio of “sculpted hair designs.”

She has also completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Newcastle.

She has a studio at the Creator Incubator.