'I recently learned from a guru who studies silence, that you should replace the word quarantine with retreat.'
Last year I was awarded a project grant by the Arts Council, to exhibit my project 'Mum's Not the Word' in Photo Fringe 2020, complete an editorial series 'Dad's Not the Word' and partake in some professional development with the hope of getting Mum's Not the Word seen in the US. There was a short turnaround in terms of when I was notified my application was successful and the opening of a physical exhibtion. At the same time through my job as photography lecturer, whilst teaching I came into contact with a student who had coronavirus. Which meant I had to self isolate at a time when I should have been in my studio preparing and printing the fifty five images for my 'Mum's Not the Word' exhibition and 'Dad's Not the Word' preview at Phoenix Window Gallery. The same building where my studio is located.
During this time I was disapointed with the quality of print samples I had quoted from an online printers. Due to the whole self isolation/ pandemic scenario, I found it difficult to buy a printer as there was a backlog of printers on order. Fortunately, I found a A3+ Epson P600 pigment printer (and paper) for the same cost of what I had been quoted to make prints. I handprinted all the images from a small space my home (Just behind where I am sitting in the title image.) Having a printer has been life changing for me and during the lockdowns I have found sanctuary in my studio, where it now rightfully belongs. I have spent the past few months taking a deep dive into colour precision. I've learnt more about colour accuracy through camera, screen and printer. I now make my own icc profiles.
Another exhibition has arisen as part of the Phoenix Window Gallery, where I submitted my lockdown series 'Retreat' created during April 2020, when I was not able to use my studio during the first national lockdown. Inspired by the beautiful morning light in my home and ample time on my hands. I documented my creative and lonesome experience. I have come to realise a year after I created 'Retreat' is that it represents a link of where I want to take my photography next. 'Mum's Not the Word' was made to highlight the childless, childfree experience many women face and have been known to be stigmatised for their choice or circumstance. Where I would like to go next is (alongside completing the male series 'Dad's Not the Word,' which has been on hold during the pandemic) Is to investigate further what it mean to be childfree. In my photobook 'Mum's Not the Word,' I placed the childfree, childless, childless by circumstance together. What I have learned along the way is there is a culture clash between the people who do not want children and the ones who can't have. For the next phase I aim to take a deeper exploration into the childfree experience and revisit some of the childfree women that I have photographed and view the subject from a more environmental perspective. One of my (Arts Council funded) mentors Jennie Ricketts recently suggested this, but looking back now I realise that I already had subconsciously this planned through an (unsuccessful) proposal I wrote for a funded PHD and my experience of lockdown when again I turned the camera on myself.
Beth Burgess, Executive Director of Brighton Festival has selected 'Retreat' to be exhibited at Phoenix Window Gallery, during Brighton Festival 2021. The group exhibition featuring other Phoenix Artists' response to the pandemic under the theme of 'Care,' opens on 1 May. Because of lockdown restriction the show will be viewable from the street. And then the gallery opens to the public on 20 May. The last time there was a physical exhibition where the audience can walk into the Phoenix building was during October 2020 when I showed my series 'Mum's Not the Word.'
'Retreat' was initially made following a request from Italian photojournalist Eugenio Grosso to add to his then new #quarantinetales collection. It has since been seen at #postcardsfromcovid curated by Offspring Photomeet, Lucy Bell Gallery #lucybellgallerylockdownexhibition,
The Fix Festival 2020 #fixstilllife curated by Laura Noble, where it was selected as judges choice by Manuel Rivera-Ortiz. Most recently a single image was picked for Format Festival, Derby - #massisolationformat Peoples Picture photo-mosiac made of 40,000 images.
The forthcoming Brighton exhibition will be the first time Retreated can be viewed in the print format, all handprinted A3+ size. And to celebrate this occasion I will be selling limited edition and signed 16 page zines during May from the Phoenix shop. You will also find books, prints and eventually zines for sale on the online shop tab of this web-site.