From 1986-2000, I was artistically and romantically partnered with Persimmon Blackbridge. During our time together, I created videos about her sculptural installations, as well as directing videos in collaboration with Kiss & Tell.
Based on the art exhibit and book of the same name, Sunnybrook tells the story of Diane, a one to one counselor for adults whose work makes her question the validity of the institution. Persimmon’s book was a winner of the Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction, and a finalist of the Lambda Literary Award for Visual Arts. The Bloomsbury Review calls Sunnybrook, “A fascinating visual and literary experience.”
From Good Reads: Sunnybrook: A True Story with Lies is the hilarious and angry story of a young woman who fakes her way into a job that changes her life. One cover-up follows another as Diane hides her learning disabilities from her new employer, the “Sunnybrook Institution for the Mentally Handicapped” and her girlfriend. But her dreams of becoming “a professional” are threatened by her identification with the inmates at Sunnybrook. And when Diane meets Shirley-Butch at the bar, her lesbian identity and her psychiatric history become irrevocably intertwined. Moving back and forth between Diane’s job and her personal life, Sunnybrook is by turns funny, tragic and sexy. It is a riveting and visually arresting story about a group of people whose lives are made up of small acts of resistance, who steal moments of joy whenever possible.
A video interpretation of a sculptural installation by Persimmon Blackbridge, this tape presents text and sculpture about the lives of four women who’ve been locked inside Canada’s prison system.
A video interpretation of a sculptural installation by Persimmon Blackbridge, this tape presents text and sculpture about the lives of four women who’ve been locked inside Canada’s prison system. Produced and Directed by Lorna Boschman. – Artist talk: Persimon Blackbridge. Text readings: Raven Courtney, Sandra Currie, Geri Ferguson, Diane Levings and Lyn Macdonald.
About Persimmon Blackbridge
Frances Rooney: “For more than 30 years, Persimmon Blackbridge’s politics has fostered her fearless, innovative art. This “learning-disabled – lesbian – cleaning-lady – sculptor – performer – madwoman” feminist | activist | writer | artist has transformed the lives of others through her work. This includes people with learning and other (dis)abilities, people who have been involved in the mental illness and/or prison systems, and those who share the depression she has experienced for much of her life.
She is also committed to exploring lesbian sexuality and culture.
Her ability to take herself seriously as an artist has provided an example and hope to other artists, both emerging and established. Her work has been exhibited in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Europe and Hong Kong.” – [Quote from Activist artist Persimmon Blackbridge other matters by FRANCES ROONEY | May 30, 2008]