Beyond the Visible: Contemporary Visualizations of Loss, Illness and the ‘Unseen’ in Representations of the Family
Thursday 23rd March 2017 (1pm-6:45pm)
Speakers: Rosy Martin, Sophie Ingleby, Arabella Plouviez, Sarah Tulloch and Marjolaine Ryley
Chairs: Nicky Bird and Carol McKay
This study day considered how photography is being used to create visual conversations around the lived experiences of illness, loss, medical conditions and the ‘unseen’ within representations of the family. Photography is a difficult medium when it comes to photographing something that is not always visible. The particular visual strategies adopted by the artists explored a range of approaches for circumnavigating the challenges this presents. Their work raises questions as to how we see (or don’t see) these lived experiences. More than this, through their exploratory visual strategies, such practices are asking if it is possible to perceive – and therefore understand – such experiences and conditions differently? An informal launch of ‘Image Object’ by Sarah Tulloch and ‘The Thin Blue Line, The Deep Red Sea’ by Marjolaine Ryley followed the main event.
The Northern Charter is a space for contemporary art in Newcastle upon Tyne. The Northern Charter is an artist-led organisation and provides spaces for artists and art organisations to make, show and curate contemporary art.
Sophie is a portrait and documentary photographer based in the North East of England. She has an MA in Photography, with distinction, from Sunderland University. Her first body of work Known/Unknown was exhibited in a solo exhibition at Aberdeen Art Gallery in 2010, and led to being selected as an Emerging British Photographer by the Canadian Publisher Magenta in 2011. Exhibitions include: Flash Forward ‘Emerging Photographers’ Flash Forward Festival, Boston, USA, 2012 and Toronto, Canada, 2011; ‘Known/Unknown’ Aberdeen Art Gallery, 2010, ‘Works of Revelation’ Vardy Gallery, Sunderland, 2010 and ‘Renaissance Photography Prize’ Mall Galleries, London, 2010.
Sophie discussed ‘S E E D’, a photographic insight into fertility treatment. The project explores different aspects of IVF through a series of portraits, conceptual photographic works and documentary imagery from Newcastle Fertility Centre at LIFE. The work aims to increase awareness and understanding of fertility treatment. www.sophieingleby.com
Arabella is a practising photographer whose work has been exhibited and published both nationally and internationally. Her work challenges the expectations of the photograph, working with different communities. Specifically, her work has explored areas from mental illness and criminality to the representation of women and, more recently, Alzheimer’s disease. Alongside her practice, Arabella writes about photography, often in collaboration with her colleague Dr Carol McKay. This work includes the co-editing of the book ‘The Versatile Image: Photography, Digital Technologies and the Internet’ 2013, looking specifically at the role of photography in the networked world. Arabella has, with colleagues, been instrumental in setting up NEPN (http://www.northeastphoto.net), a regional photography development and research agency, which encourages and engages the development of debate around high quality, critically engaged photography. Arabella is Professor of Photography and Academic Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, University of Sunderland. www.photography-at-sunderland.co.uk/ArabellaPlouviezweb/index.html
Arabella presented ‘Alzheimer’s: A Quiet Story’ which considers how, through the confusion of Alzheimer’s disease, the everyday becomes out of reach, the immediate gets lost and the individual works hard to understand the confusion of others. This work takes a domestic environment which has been lived in for a lifetime and the medium of photography which we so often use as our memory to explore some of the ways in which our brains get lost through this illness.
Marjolaine Ryley has exhibited and published her work both nationally and internationally including exhibitions at Impressions Gallery, Bradford, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, The Palacio des Artes, Porto and Wolverhampton Art Gallery, West Midlands. Publications include ‘Villa Mona – A Proper Kind of House’ Trace, 2006 and ‘Growing up in the New Age’ Daylight, 2013. Ryley’s recent publication ‘The Thin Blue Line, The Deep Red Sea’, NEPN, 2015 explores the often invisible experience of miscarriage through photography and creative writing. This project was funded through Arts Council England and was undertaken in collaboration with The Miscarriage Association Charity where she undertook a year as their Artist in Residence. Ryley’s work is held in the collections of the V&A and Serralves museum.
Marjolaine talked about the development of her work, ‘The Thin Blue Line, The Deep Red Sea’ which examines the ways miscarriage and pregnancy loss have been explored (and ignored) in arts and culture. www.marjolaineryley.co.uk
Tulloch gained an MFA with distinction from Newcastle University in 2009. She has exhibited in the UK and internationally including Rotterdam International Film Festival, Berwick Film and Media Festival, Plus Arts Projects, London, Motorcade/Flashparade, Bristol, Spike Island, Bristol, Baltic 39, Newcastle upon Tyne and Bergby Konst Centre, Sweden. She was shortlisted for Jerwood Encounters: Family Politics in 2013. Forthcoming exhibitions in 2017 include Platform A gallery, Middlesborough and The New Bridge Project, Newcastle with fellow artists Annie O’Donnell and Katy Cole and a solo show at The Bonnafont gallery, San Francisco.
Sarah discussed the work ‘Object Image’, which interrogates both the material fabric of the image, the object, and the image content of the photographic subject. www.sarahtulloch.co.uk
FTN co-ordinator, Rosy Martin is an artist-photographer, psychological-therapist, workshop leader, lecturer and writer. She has exhibited internationally and published widely since 1985. Her work has explored issues including gender, sexuality, ageing, class, desire, memory location, urbanism, family dynamics, shame, health and disease, bereavement, grief and reparation. Recent publications include essays in ‘The Photograph and the Album’ 2013, ‘Phototherapy and Therapeutic Photography in a Digital Age’ 2013 and ‘Ageing Femininities, Troubling Representations’ 2012.
In ‘Too close to home?’ Rosy examines the challenges she faced in attempting to represent her mother’s dementia. Then the task of ‘curating the museum of sources’, somehow finding visual strategies to reflect her grief and sense of losses as she faced dismantling the family home, alone. In ‘Acts of Reparation’ she used the process of re-enactment phototherapy to replace her parents, in their home and honour the memory of who they had been. www.rosymartin.co.uk
Event photographs taken by Lauren Crawford