iroha Pride Month Celebrates Sadie Lee

Continuing with our celebration of Pride Month, we want to feature the work of an influential figure in today's LGBTQ+ community: artist and activist Sadie Lee. In this article, we would like to reflect on Sadie Lee's history and delve into her remarkable works of art featuring the representation of men and women, their sexuality, their gender, as well as honoring the aging body.


A Little Background on Sadie Lee

Sadie Lee is an artist living and working in London, known for her provocative paintings depicting people, often from the LGBTQ+ community, and often from an older generation. She had never planned on becoming a painter, but enrolled in the Epsom School of Art and Design, where she eventually left due to the curriculum not interesting her. In 1996, she won the BP Travel Award, a major prize in the BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery, which allowed her to take a trip to Los Angeles, where she became fascinated with several retired striptease artists and painted a series called 'Ladies of the Burlesque'

More recently in 2021, Sadie won first prize in the Queer Britain inaugural Madame F Art Award for her painting of David Hoyle, an English performance artist, often considered "Queer Royalty'' in the LGBTQ+ community. Since 2007, at the National Portrait Gallery, she has run Queer Perspectives, an event held every quarter, where she invites LGBTQ+ guests to join her in discussing works in the Gallery’s collection. She also teaches and curates LGBTQ+ themed events at The Wallace Collection in London.

She also known for coining the acronym "QUILTBAG" standing for:

Q - Queer/Questioning
U - Undecided
I - Intersex
L - Lesbian
T - Transgender
B - Bisexual
A - Asexual
G - Gay

QUILTBAG is a unique acronym which brings to mind a patchwork of many identities that come together to form a larger piece, showcasing different patterns, colors, and textures, creating a vibrant and visually appealing composition.

The Artwork of Sadie Lee

Paint brushes in a bucket - Debby HudsonEven though the subjects of her art are often elderly, forgotten people, or people that have been judged to be "too different" to be accepted into the mainstream, she wants to remind us that they are still active and are very much alive in their sexuality. 

Quoted from Sadie Lee's Tweet on her 2021 Queer Britain award: “My paintings are realistic renderings of real people who sit for me. Frequently drawn from Queer communities, they depict and celebrate queer otherness and focus on the fabulous, the invisible, the marginalized and those who wear their identity on their sleeve.”

Her 2008 painting entitled The Actresses, depicts two elderly women, lovers, in bed and in their underwear. The painting is large and draws you into the scene, as if you were actually part of the painting, feeling the experience. Many other details remain purposely ambiguous and rely on the perception of the viewer to interpret the situation and what each lady is feeling as they stare off in different directions. 

Her work also depicts the power still alive and well within these people, reminding us that we are still virile and sexually charged no matter what age we are or how we may appear to others. No one is a relic to be discarded. Everyone is someone and has something powerful and sensual to convey.

My paintings are all portraits of real women who display appearances or behaviour that could be considered ‘unladylike’ by society’s notions of convention. The models are from all walks of life, of varying ages, ethnic groups, sexualities, and sizes but are frequently united by a sense of vulnerability, combined with an overtly strong sexual awareness.

- Sadie Lee

Check out Sadie Lee's Instagram here!

Let Pride Be for Everyone

Painted Rainbow by Steve JohnsonAs Sadie Lee reminds us, we are all beautiful and fascinating. Her remarkable works remind us that we all possess a magical spark. If you just look a little closer beyond the surface, you will see it’s always been there.
As iroha celebrates the month of Pride, we hope that you, too, celebrate that power and sensuality inside of you that will always remain untarnished, no matter what age, gender, or sexual orientation you are.

As a brand that believes everyone should feel comfortable with their sexuality and enjoy it in their own way, we want to help reduce taboos and barriers, and provide a safe environment for people to discuss masturbation and explore their self-pleasure and wellness. It is our goal to help you find your way upon this journey of self-exploration.