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© Lauris Morgan-Griffiths – A Portal to Home “I remember my mother making these silk flowers. dyeing and ironing the curls in the petals. I found them in her memory box four or five years ago. I have little from home so I treasure them for the childhood memories. They are like a portal; they take me right back to our family home in the suburb of Tokyo when I, my brother and sister were teenagers.”

Female photographers claim their space

Women who ride motorbikes, representations of the Virgin Mary, and issues around hair all feature in this exciting group exhibition. Erica Smith looks at the wealth of subjects explored by ‘women who shoot’.

The promotional image for the show is a compilation of portraits of the i24 photographers by Beatrice Lacey.

The beauty of a group show is that themes appear – sometimes unintentionally. In this show both Lauris Morgan-Griffiths and Sinéid Codd give voice to the unheard narratives surrounding objects – things  apparently valueless, which carry a weight of meaning for their owners.

Morgan-Griffiths’ series of 11 postcard-sized portraits look at the keepsakes chosen by eleven different people. The portraits cleverly convey character yet rarely reveal the full identity of the subject. The accompanying quotes from the portrait-sitters complement the photographs and complete the stories.

Sinéid Codd keeps her focus on the members of i-24. Tiny prints of their treasured items become the jewels on a giant beaded necklace.

Sharon Haward literally turns the concept of portraiture around by photographing the backs of the twelve photographers’ heads. Both of these installations challenge the viewer to match the image to the photographer, yet this process of exploration is nothing to do with ‘woman as muse’ – the photographers are active subjects of each other’s photographs. There is no objectification.

Lost in Time by Clare Hocter

Clare Hocter’s large digital collage is an examination of self. In Lost in Time she revisits a self-portrait from fifteen years ago and adds to it the changes and challenges that she has faced since then. “Rich memories become deeply ingrained in our souls – colliding with the scarring pain of loss and grief.” It’s a powerful example of photograph as illustration – there is something magical realist about this emerald-flooded print.

It is not a standard ‘frames on walls’ kind of show – there is a delightful variety of presentation around the gallery. Caoimhe McDonnell has created an altar piece to commemorate the closing of the last Irish mother and baby home in 1998. A photograph of the most famous mother of all, the Virgin Mary, is mounted in a wooden cupboard. Photography becomes sculpture.

2 images from Josie Barnes quadtych of images from the Isle of Arran. Lockdown has moved Barnes’ focus from urban scenes to landscape photography.

A literal pathway is cut through wild Scottish landscape in Josie Barnes’ search for images. The fragility of freedom is explored in a cobweb by Tracy Jones. Perspective and scale are played with in Roz Cran’s colour prints and Beatrice Lacey forces us to look up through the glass ceiling in an impressive and oppressive larger than life-size print. Visual pathways are distorted  and reversed to mix up accepted ways of seeing, and challenge the viewer to consider new possibilities.

Young guns by Patricia Morrow-Webb

Patricia Morrow-Webb has chosen to include three prints from an on-going project documenting women bikers. Female motor-cyclists are still a tiny minority – and a group to which Patricia belongs. This allows her to take candid portraits. The colour photograph of three young biker-women looking totally at ease with themselves is one of her favourites. They represent a new generation of women who are in complete control of their bikes rather than riding pillion.

Not invisible yet by Louise Whitham

Both Louise Whitham and Robin Hutt examine early women photographers and botany – yet stylistically they tread very different paths. Hutt uses flower photography in unconventional ways and builds up a layered tribute to female pioneers of photography. Meanwhile, Whitham has been making chlorophyll prints – exposing leaves to intense sunshine. The prints are visible yet fade unless kept in the dark. Louise says “It’s hard not to draw a poetic comparison to those many women who dedicated their lives to creating incredible images who are waiting to come back into the light.”

Above all, this exhibition is a celebration of the strength of collaboration – a gaining of ground through a shared belief that collective action is essential in the forging of new pathways for women, and for our post-pandemic community.

Lauris Morgan-Griffiths is also exhibiting at Electro Studios this weekend as part of a group photographic exhibition in which she is the only woman to be featured. You can read John Cole’s review of 14 months of solitude here.

Gaining Ground: Women Claiming Space – an  Exhibition by i24 at Hastings Arts Forum TN38 ODX runs from 2–14 November 2021.
Private View: Friday 5 November 6.30-8.30pm
You can find out more on the PhotoHastings website.

 

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Posted 20:41 Wednesday, Nov 3, 2021 In: Photography

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