Woman with cushion

Role Play (how to be be a mother I)

Earlier this year I was invited to show some work with Celine Marchbank and Paloma Tendero. The result is My mother’s daughter, opening on March 9th at Free Space Gallery in London.

When we started discussing what it was that we were exploring it became apparent we were all trying to make sense of what it was to be a daughter with a gaping hole in the maternal line preceding us. For me, the opportunity to show work together has been about looking in more depth at pictures I made that consider my experiences with miscarriage and fertility treatment.

When things had become initially difficult for me it coincided with my mother dying. I tried making pictures for a ‘performance of pregnancy’. I was continuing my attempts to make work despite having no space to think, trying to articulate everything that was happening. I acted out shapes of a swollen stomach with a cushion, wearing my grandmother’s blue dress. But I found it all a bit too sad….so I stopped.

Later, after my mother died, I found some beautiful pictures of her pregnant with me – two 5×4 transparencies, glowing like tiny Dutch paintings, taken by my father in 1975. Even though they had been in my possession for years since his own death more than a decade before I had never looked in this particular box, only opening it less than a month after her funeral instead.

I have always been fascinated by children’s role-playing… imagination propelling their games of dress -up. I did it myself, putting on my mother’s platform shoes as a little three-  or four-year-old girl, tromping about the garden as a ‘grown up’.

In my first months and years as an adult orphan I started to perform this role again. Only this time I was grown up – I was just still pretending to be a mummy.

 

 

 

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Woman with cushion

Armour studies talk

Along with my solo show Armour studies (regarding skin), currently on at Vittoria Street Gallery in Birmingham, I am “In Conversation” this Thursday 2nd February at 5:00 with Sian Hindle, as part of the series Talking Practice. The event is free but you need to book – link here.

Armour Studies (regarding skin)

Armour studies talk

Armour studies (regarding skin)

I am delighted to be showing a collection of new works in a solo show at the Vittoria Street Gallery in Birmingham. The show opened on the 16th January and runs until the 17th February 2017.

Armour studies (regarding skin) employs the body as both vessel and surface. It continues to explore my interest in experience manifesting itself upon the shell of the physical exterior, inscribing it with markings reminiscent of armour, lace and industrious hands.

On the 2nd February I’ll be doing “In Conversation” with Sian Hindle, as part of the series Talking Practice. The event runs 5 – 6, followed by a Private View of the exhibition.

The event is free but you need to book – link here.

e-vite-jessa-fairbrother

 

Armour studies (regarding skin)

Fishbar

Just before the end of 2016 I was delighted to show my work at Fishbar’s Christmas market – a great place to hang out and meet people engaging with and supporting photography. It was a really lovely event. Here are a few of my pieces on display, along with the dummy for Conversations with my mother.

We hung my work in the window – although I wouldn’t do that permanently because it’s not archival perspex I think it helps you see how the perforations do go all the way through. Putting it in a frame with a permanently illuminated light source is completely possible – but a little complicated and needs discussion.

Armour Studies

Fishbar

Endings/beginnings and Radical Softness

Conversations with my motherIn November I did a talk for Redeye’s Hothouse event in Birmingham – part of their association with Grain – sharing my work Conversations with my mother. As I was given a slot that had a modest 10-minute length I wanted to experiment with doing my introduction as a semi-performance piece. My idea was to speak the words, which are very powerful for me, in time with a sequence.

I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but I practised and took a risk.

I had spoken the words many times in preparation but found it very difficult in the actual speaking, pausing and letting silence happen as part of the work.

I was very moved by the event and had lovely messages afterwards. Someone in the audience tweeted “Feeling is what makes us human’ really admire your tears during ; there is power in vulnerability, thank you

I take this as a huge compliment. I have found it so hard to put this work together and in the beginning, when people said “….it’s a bit personal” it was almost like that was a negative thing. It made me really think about it for a long time…was anyone else going to care…What was the point of it… Would it make meaning for anyone else. Thank you @InesElsaDalal for identifying this as “radical softness”, which probably summed up what I aim for more succinctly than ever.

A result of this talk led to me doing an interview with Photograd. You can read the whole piece here.

(I later did some research on the term Radical Softness. As far as I know it’s origin is Lora Mathis – I got in touch with her and asked to link up. You can read her blog post here: http://loramathis.com/post/140474165618/on-radical-softness).

Endings/beginnings and Radical Softness

Round ups and resolutions (Part II)

October was all about New York. I was very fortunate to have been awarded a travel bursary earlier in the year by a-n The Artist Information Company, which meant I could visit New York to talk about my book for 10x10Photobooks. This organisation is all about encouraging audiences to develop, appreciate and engage with Photobooks and I was delighted to take part in a Salon along with wonderful bookmakers Lucy Helton, Virginie Rebetez and Delphine Bedel.

10x10photobooks

I blogged about the trip for a-n and you can read it here.

Round ups and resolutions (Part II)

Round ups and resolutions (part I)

As its been so busy the last few months the blog has fallen by the wayside a little bit. I’m quite regular on Instagram though, so if you like to see what I’m making head over there for my latest work – I try to put something up fairly frequently, even though things take me a really long time to make.

This post though is about what I did since Art in Action – I think I’ll have to break it up into two though, as it was a very busy Autumn…

In July I did a workshop at The Photographers’ Gallery, showing a group some of the techniques I use with my images. It was a lovely day, wonderfully supported by the staff at the gallery.

At the end of the summer I was thrilled to have a volume of my artist book, Conversations with my mother, acquired by The National Art Library in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It’s so important for me to see this book go to places where it can be viewed. As I only made 16 this is the way it can reach as many people as possible.

Here I am after I asked a member of staff to photograph me and my book in the library. If you want to look through the work you can request to view it in Special Collections. A video is on my website here.

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In September I went to Vienna for the group show Handmade III. This included Sissi Farassat, Roger Ballen and Katie Kalkstein, amongst others. This is one of my images on the poster outside. Ironically the original is tiny – only 5.5 x 7 cm.

outside-in-vienna

It was a great show and I had a wonderful few days in Vienna.

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Some of my work shown in the exhibition.

If you would like to see more of what is available at Anzenberger Gallery please click here.

Round ups and resolutions (part I)