The Pansy Project & Merchandise
Paul Harfleet’s approach to merchandise has evolved over the years. His book, Pansy Boy could be seen as merchandise but is intended to operate as an autonomous work that explores and promotes The Pansy Project to a new and younger audience. Posters that showcase his illustrations are available now on Redbubble, however these are a more straightforward way of promoting the book. His first venture into conceptual merchandise was in 2011 and was a one-off collaboration with Tatty Devine. The following is taken from the artist statement released when the brooches were launched.
“A frequent request from many organisations has been the creation of some kind of badge, pin, or ribbon as the pansy appears to fit well within this charitable methodology; such as the poppy which honours the war dead. Paul was cautious throughout discussions regarding this issue as whatever badge, brooch etc created, would simply be a pansy on a lapel and would lose the contrast or political edge the artist thought was most effective about The Pansy Project. So when collaboration between Tatty Devine and The Pansy Project arose Harfleet approached the prospect with eagerness and used the opportunity to consider how to incorporate written abuse within the proposed decorative jewellery object.
Tatty Devine completely embraced the quirky edginess of this idea and have understood completely the motivations in creating this piece. The resulting collaborative brooch embodies some of the best qualities of The Pansy Project, it initially appears as a pretty non-offensive flower adorning a lapel or cardigan but on closer inspection quotes the most frequently hurled homophobic abuses; “Fucking Dyke!” “Queer Boy!” and “Fucking Faggot!” are all depressingly frequent titles of planted pansies but in the context of jewellery this quote can be worn with political purpose. The size of the piece enables the meaning of the pin to be gradually revealed when closely examined. This examination most likely preserved for trusted friends and allies is intended to create surprise and curiosity in the viewer who will then ask questions about the nature of the piece of the wearer thus continuing the conversational nature of The Pansy Project and its evolution as a method to explore the peculiarities of homophobia and its continued existence in society.” These are now sold out.
In 2009 Paul Harfleet collaborated with Bundy&Webster, a fashion duo who work with artists to create unique and unusual clothing. The ‘Put a Pansy In It’ Sweatshirt developed an idea from the artists social media campaign that took The Pansy Project and extrapolated it into a simple message:, to ‘put a pansy in it’ rather than express homophobia, mostly used on digital posters that were shared on line, more on this here. The sweatshirt received international press and has now sold out.
In 2014 this was followed by a T-shirt that used a simple ‘polka dot’ design with a twist. Paul took every image of the individual pansies he planted at the site of homophobia and placed them on a T-shirt. The T-shirt was delivered with a document containing the titles of the one hundred and eleven plantings Harfleet had made. Titles like “I think he’s a queer, shall we kill him?” and “We’re going to kill you, Faggot!” transformed this elegant and seemingly innocent T-shirt into a fashion item that permitted the wearer to share the story of The Pansy Project or to simply know their T-shirt had a story. ‘Every Pansy I’ve Ever Planted’ acted as an abstract overview of The Pansy Project showcasing the ongoing project and continuing the previous success of the collaboration between The Pansy Project and Bundy&Webster. The T-shirt has now sold out.