Arts & Culture
Photo by Dana Piotrowska from Sczcecin
All about mam
How the death of one mother prompted a photography exhibition exploring the subject of motherhood.
It was two years ago when Fiona Caley’s mother died unexpectedly. The freelance photographer from Hull was due to launch her first international photography exhibition at the time.
As a way of coping with her loss she decided to use photography as a medium to help with the consoling process. The end result is a new exhibition of photographs depicting personal interpretations of ‘mother’ by women from Hull and its twin city Freetown in Sierra Leone and sister cities: Szczecin in Poland and Reykjavik, Iceland.
“During the Wilberforce Women’s ‘Greetings’ project, just before we exhibited at the Ferens Art Gallery, my mum passed away so she wasn’t able to see the exhibition.” said Ms Caley.
Fiona Caley: project coordinator and photographer
“The inspiration [for the exhibition] partly came from that as a creative response to what was obviously not an easy time. So taking that idea we thought this is a common theme: we all have a mother and we all have different feelings about our mothers, whether they’re good or bad.”
“It’s been a real roller-coaster journey but I would say it’s been extremely enjoyable and for me as a photographer, I just see it as a really positive means of dealing with a difficult situation.”
Over 80 images will be on display in the exhibition, which is a culmination of a series of photography workshops for women in Hull and Freetown.
It forms part of the Wilberforce Women initiative which promotes skills and training development through photography for women, whilst developing links with Hull’s twin and sister cities.
One of the photographers exhibiting her work is Martha Chan. A freelance journalist and translator from Hong Kong, who moved to Hull in 1995 to study and has been living and working in the city ever since.
Plum blossom by Martha Chan
Martha was prompted to join the project in the hope of learning more about the lives of women in the sister cities. She is exhibiting her work for the first time including the photograph of a plum blossom, a representation of her mother’s recovery from a serious illness.
“I took this photo a few years ago near my parents’ home in Hong Kong. A few months after I took the photo my mum was diagnosed with cancer.
“Chinese culture always says: ‘a plum blossom signifies a woman’s strength and spirit’. So I think this is a really good photo to remind me of my mother and her spirit to fight the cancer."
Mother and daughter team
Also exhibiting their work are mother and daughter Lucy Flower and Violet Neumann from Hull.
At 13 years of age, Violet Neumann is one of the youngest contributors of the project.
Her growing passion for photography spurred her to take part alongside her mother Lucy, and this is the first time she is exhibiting her work.
“It’s nice to know that other people share my love for photography. I like to see other peoples [photographs] just as much as mine.” said Violet.
“I’ve always loved photography but these workshops mean that you can do photography and it’ll go somewhere… and it means that it’ll be seen by other people.”
Both Lucy and Violet decided to capture their mother and grandmother in a head and shoulders portrait.
Photo taken by Violet Neumann
“I tried to get my grandma in a nice natural pose but when you put a camera at her she shies away.” said Violet.
“But we eventually got her when she was reading a magazine and that’s what she likes to do mainly. So I thought it was nice because it [shows] her in her natural place.”
Mothers 2009 opens at the Hull Truck Theatre on Wednesday 22nd July and runs until 15th August.
The Hull Truck Youth Theatre will perform a drama based on a selection of the photographs on display on the final day of the exhibition.
last updated: 22/07/2009 at 15:45
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