“Her art focuses on social documentary and portraiture, and seeks to explore the complex relationship between subject and photographer.
Laura is driven by research led self-initiated projects. In her own words, she does all she can “to understand the lives of those captured, and to present them creatively”. She is a firm believer that “time, trust and understanding is the key to portraying subjects truthfully”, and as such, many of her projects develop over several years. Her particular approach allows a genuine connection to exist between sitter and photographer, which in turn elucidates the intimacy of these very human exchanges. Her images aim to suggest the shared ideas and experiences that are entwined in each frame that she shoots. Laura largely shoots with a film camera on her personal projects, allowing her process to be organic rather than being predefined by fixed ideas, thus removing additional pressure on the sitter.”
“Redheaded Peckerwood is a work with a tragic underlying narrative – the story of 19-year-old Charles Starkweather and 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate who murdered ten people, including Fugate’s family, during a three-day killing spree across Nebraska to the point of their capture in Douglas, Wyoming. The images record places and things central to the story, depict ideas inspired by it, and capture other moments and discoveries along the way.
From a technical perspective, the photographs incorporate and reference the techniques of photojournalism, forensic photography, image appropriation, reenactment and documentary landscape photography. On a conceptual level, they deal with a charged landscape and play with a photographic representation and truth as the work deconstructs a pre-existing narrative.
Redheaded Peckerwood also utilizes and plays with a pre-existing archive of material, deliberately mixing fact and fiction, past and present, myth and reality as it presents, expands and re-presents the various facts and theories surrounding this story.
While photographs are the heart of this work, they are the complemented and informed by documents and objects that belonged to the killers and their victims – including a map, poem, confession letter, stuffed animal, hood ornament and various other items, in several cases, these materials are discoveries first made by the artist and presented here for the first time.
In book form, the work is presented as a sort of visual crime dossier, including pieces of paper which are inserted into the book. The many individual pieces included serve as cues and clues within the visual puzzle. In this way, there are connections that are left for the viewer to be made and mysteries that are left to be solved.”
“Sparkle, baby explores girl culture in Australia within the phenomena of beauty pageants, particularly those directed at the young. Through documenting child pageants, I seek to understand if participating in these events increases the pressure on young girls to conform to an idealised view of what it means to be female or rather, is it a celebration of girlhood? It is not about why they compete in child pageants, but rather, who or what in society is telling them to do so?
Whilst from an outsiders perspective pageants may appear unnatural, to the girls participating, pageants are not only fantastical but also mirror the expectations and demands of society, in regards to presentation, and serve as a worthy preparation for later life. A society that believes those who are presented well, who are thinner, or more conventionally beautiful are valued more.
Through allowing me access to their ‘competitive lives’ I have been enabled by these girls to tell their story, not just as individuals, but as part of a developing culture.”
“They wished to flower,
and flowering is being beautiful:
but we wish to ripen,
and that means being dark and taking pains.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
In Natural History, plant forms reveal, conceal and integrate with portraits to form images of women in the ripeness of their years. We have created these images in our gardens, to observe, study and understand the natural order of things. From bud to full flower to seed, the images reflect emergence through a growing season.
Flowers which we raise now for ornamental beauty were once essential in culinary, medicinal and magical arts. They were used symbolically in literature, religion, and mythology as connections to the mysteries of birth, death and regeneration. Overlaying the portraits with flowers reconnects and evokes these histories providing a context for considering maturity in a culture preoccupied with the preservation of youth.
The women we photographed are friends, family and mentors. Their poses reference Roman portrait busts which honor lineage and express the authority and dignity of their subjects. Experimentation with the cyanotype photographic process brought the portraits and flowers together and reveals rich alignments of nature with history.
The cyanotype is produced by a light sensitive iron salt solution, which we applied to our digital portraits. The images are then overlaid with plants from our gardens and exposed to sunlight, leaving shadowy blue impressions. The variations of blue veiling on the portraits are a combination of exposure and brush application, making each image unique. Prussian blue (the result of the chemical interactions of the cyanotype process) is a color rare in nature. It is a hue of royalty and higher vibrations, the color of shadows and twilight and of transition at death.
By creating cyanotypes over the portraits, we merge contemporary digital technology with early photographic processes. Through the 1840’s, pioneer photographer and botanist, Anna Atkins, used cyanotype impressions to create books documenting British plant specimens, and is credited with being the first woman to use photography in her books of British flora. The process reminds us of photography’s ability to render both the empirical and the interpretive.
Lyrical, tribal, dark or veiled, the botanical forms and human features coalesce in each image. In shadow and light, in continual flux, the material and immaterial mingle in gardens of infinite connections.”
“Martin Parr is a chronicler of our age. In the face of the constantly growing flood of images released by the media, his photographs offer us the opportunity to see the world from his unique perspective.
At first glance, his photographs seem exaggerated or even grotesque. The motifs he chooses are strange, the colours are garish and the perspectives are unusual. Parr’s term for the overwhelming power of published images is “propaganda”. He counters this propaganda with his own chosen weapons: criticism, seduction and humour. As a result, his photographs are original and entertaining, accessible and understandable. But at the same time they show us in a penetrating way how we live, how we present ourselves to others, and what we value.
Leisure, consumption and communication are the concepts that this British photographer has been researching for several decades now on his worldwide travels. In the process, he examines national characteristics and international phenomena to find out how valid they are as symbols that will help future generations to understand our cultural peculiarities. Parr enables us to see things that have seemed familiar to us in a completely new way. In this way he creates his own image of society, which allows us to combine an analysis of the visible signs of globalisation with unusual visual experiences. In his photos, Parr juxtaposes specific images with universal ones without resolving the contradictions. Individual characteristics are accepted and eccentricities are treasured.
The themes Parr selects and his inimitable treatment of them set him apart as a photographer whose work involves the creation of extensive series. Part of his unusual strategy is to present and publish the same photos in the context of art photography, in exhibitions and in art books, as well as in the related fields of advertising and journalism. In this way, he transcends the traditional separation of the different types of photography. Thanks to this integrative approach, as well as his style and his choice of themes, he has long served as a model for the younger generation of photographers.
Martin Parr sensitises our subconscious – and once we’ve seen his photographs, we keep on discovering these images over and over again in our daily lives and recognising ourselves within them. The humour in these photographs makes us laugh at ourselves, with a sense of recognition and release.”
“Fergus Heron’s work explores connections between landscape and architecture. His principal artistic concern is making pictures that intensify contemplation of commonplaces where the cultural and natural combine with the modern and traditional.
Heron’s working process involves interconnected on-going projects that acknowledge conventions and histories of the picturesque landscape and the photograph as documentary art. Working primarily in South East England, he uses a large format view camera and available light to create finely detailed printed works with a quality of stillness and a sense of extended present time. In single pictures or closely resembling pairs and sequences, connected and discontinuous views form processes for questioning how place can be represented.
Across all his work, Heron’s slow and deliberate picture making concentrates upon some of the most basic principles of photography, offering possibilities through which to decelerate and distil our seeing.”