What are little boys made of?

Who is the boy?

What are little boys made of?

I’ll tell you what little boys are made of!


Lipstick and heels and little blue dresses

Club nights, fucking

Flowers In presses

Twisted calf carcases

Dead frogs in trees

Judy, Joan and Nina

Gurl please!

Pink fluffy rats

blue Cinderella shoes

Pears, dildos

Drugs and booze

Sewing a blanket

Tea with Gran


Charity shops

Loving my man

Sickly sweet letters

Party bag treats

Tinder and Grindr

Perverted creeps

Horseback riding

Growing veg

Kitten heals, mascara

A blow job behind a hedge

Singing in the choir

decorating the tree

Finding out Santa is really daddy

Pink fluffy rats

Blue Cinderella shoes

Janis Joplin singing the blues

Working on farms

bludgeoning mice

Sugar and spice

all things nice

Dogs that bark

neon beds

Play balls


Words sewn in threads

Pink fluffy rats

Blue Cinderella shoes

Pearls and dildos

Drugs and booze

The Boy-Painting, Benjamin Martin, 2017

Identity has become a core part of my art practice; this is rooted in a desire to uncover my own personal struggles with gender and masculinity and in looking at the wider social and political implications of these subjects. This has been partially shaped by my own personal encounter working with children in nursery school settings and seeing how in particular binaries of gender are enforced from a young age.  

 “What are little boys made of?” has been the title for many of my art works, including a performance piece, texts, photographs, made objects and drawings/paintings. The title “What are little boys made of?” comes from the famous childhood poem thought to have been written Robert Southey. The poem encompasses many of the ideas that I have been researching and using within my current practice. Gender and childhood are clearly indicated within the text, highlighting gender norms and binaries which are still pervasive throughout society. Using very childlike imagery and narratives the poem seeks to disembowel and compartmentalise girls, boys, men, women into very succinct categories. The original version was much longer and may have originally been titled “What all the world is made of?”, which makes the subject of this text even more potent in terms of the implications of gender binaries on society and indeed the world.

The idea of ‘the boy’ within my work has become a metaphor for my struggles with gender binaries and with masculinity. Using the word boy, opposed to using the word man, aims to fix the origin of the body as a gendered entity within childhood.