If you didn’t know Newcastle-based Lily Ward before this year, you may soon because of her eye-catching move into latex-fetish modelling with business partner and photographer, Allan Duncan.
The latex-fetish art photography business, A D Atelier, has a growing Instagram following of nearly 12,000. The modelling pictures reflect interest in lingerie, fashion and BDSM (which can loosely be described as kink).
Graduating from Newcastle Art School and the University of Newcastle, 25-year-old Ward also studied at the Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany, which she says was a turning point for her.
“The Bauhaus expanded my appreciation of life and culture, especially in relation to concepts of gender, and increased my self awareness as a woman,” she says.
In late 2017, Ward joined a group of models promoting the artistic appreciation of latex-fetishism.
However, she says her involvement stems from her fervour for empowerment and sex and body positivity.
In a chance to spread her wings creatively and promote the normalisation of the needs of those “living for latex”, Ward quickly reacted to an opportunity to step up in the business to become creative director.
“Making latex-fetishism more familiar to those who initially disapprove of it helps make it acceptable as a healthy lifestyle choice,” she says. “The disapproval comes from a perception of a connection to a subversive underground narrative.”
There are a lot of health and safety considerations for a shoot, Ward says, which can last five to seven hours.
Making latex-fetishism more familiar to those who initially disapprove of it helps make it acceptable as a healthy lifestyle choice.Lily Ward
“Suiting up takes up to one hour. Constricted breathing, inhibited movement and the loss of any tactile sensation can be mind-altering.”
There are always at least two people supervising, and Ward is in constant communication with the model to assess their mental awareness. And, she notes, “there is always a knife to release them”.
Having an online gallery is a no-brainer for A D Atelier, as printing on demand reduces costs. Ward would also like to show the work in a physical exhibition space but says “it would make sense to do this in, say, Sydney, to capture a larger audience”.
“Latex fetish is a feminist practice,” Ward says, adding that she has “stepped back from aligning with hard-core feminism” and agrees her principles are now better described as “humanist”.
“When you google latex-fetish, you get stereotypical submissive porn stars,” Ward says. However, the latex-fetish community is made up of all genders, who mostly work in ordinary jobs. Some do it as models, for recreation, some need to have it in their daily lives – their life is latex. Others view it, without ever wearing it themselves.
Whether you “do it” or “view it” – it’s all about consent.