MA Final Show

Exhibition – Boundaries: Photographic Conversations with the Global

CUBE Gallery, Manchester, 12th – 15th September 2012

Thank you so much for such a fantastic attendance and support!

Some follow exhibitors which may be of interest:

Huw Wahl

Karl Lagan

Kev Pritchard

Marina Doganou

Antoni Georgiev

David Wade 

Carl A. O’Keeffe

Livia Lazar

Marianne van Loo

MA Final Show Prep

Mounting the exhibition – almost there!

MA Final Show @ CUBE Gallery, Manchester

Opening Night Thursday 13th September at 5pm

Daily opening hours 12-5.30pm

 

MA Project – ‘Motherhood’

‘Envisioning Motherhood’ – deconstructing the visuality of breastfeeding in the cultural context of motherhood

 

Breastfeeding is a complex topic that enters into sociological, cultural, political and economic realms.  For us to understand the social stigma of breastfeeding we must view it within the cultural context of motherhood.

Media framing contributes significantly to the way in which we ‘see’ motherhood, creating unethical and unrealistic expectations:

“God forbid that one second should pass where you child was idle and that you were not doing everything you could to promote his or her emotional, cognitive, imaginative, quantitative, or muscular development.”  (The Mommy Myth, Douglas & Michaels, 2005)

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF outline in The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding ‘to ensure that the health and other relevant sectors protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding…providing women access to the support they require – in the family, community and workplace.’

Our exposure to breastfeeding is now unlikely through surrounding family, friends and society.  It will most likely come in the shape of an advocacy campaign or book, probably when we are already expecting our first born.  This will be predominantly based on health benefits with a technical, mechanical approach to achieve success at breastfeeding.  Through conditioning we have come to rely on discovered knowledge through theory and fact, this is at the expense of our natural instincts.

We are constantly bombarded with unreal representations of motherhood, advice, expectations, pressures, attack and scrutiny of how we should be ‘doing our job’, not only as mothers, but as women!  The normative support and education from peers has been squashed by overpowering dissemination of the mass media.  This influences what we now believe we ‘see and know,’ it implants an ‘idea’ of motherhood, constantly being re-enforced by our visual culture.

Women as mothers have a right to be valued as members of society for the multiple roles in which they inhabit.  I believe that we have the ability to shape change through the visual, visual culture ignites all of the senses; most importantly it has a voice.

MA Project – Breastfeeding – Barriers


 Addressing the issues surrounding breastfeeding I wanted to look at our preconceptions and therefore barriers to breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding advocacy and campaigns focus targeting individual mothers decisions, I believe that this is ineffective.  This is because mothers generally know the benefits of breastfeeding, therefore repackaging the same information they are already aware of is a waste of resources.  The breastfeedig initiation rate stands at 74% (Department of Health, 2012), therefore the majority of women want to breastfeed, this means that there are other factors that bring the exclusivity feeding rate down so low so quick.

Barriers to breastfeeding do not only lie with individual mothers involving technical difficulties but enter into a wider social context.

For example, returning to work, status, primitive, stereotyping, sexuality, economic, prudery, science, religion, age, class etc.

These images are a reflection of those barriers, with the hope of questioning are social and cultural understanding of breastfeeding.

Family Portrait – 16.08.12

Isla, George and Edward

Breastfeeding Friendly Fleetwood

Incorporated within my Masters in Photography I am pursuing a Breastfeeding project, hoping to gain a better understanding of the cultural context breastfeeding sits in, I became involved with the local NHS and Breastfeeding Network Groups.  The Infant Feeding Project Board were in the process of a new initiative based on a participatory appraisal carried out in the area of Fleetwood exploring local attitudes towards breastfeeding.  Public feeding was prominent, attitudes proved positive, despite infant formula being the most prevalent feeding choice.

The positivity of the town was recognised and Fleetwood officially became ‘Breastfeeding Friendly’, with a statement of the Welcome sign.

iBreastfeed

Breastfeeding is surrounded by controversy, much of this appears to raise from public feeding. Most of our contact with this issue centers around the media and sensationalised newspaper stories.  I wanted to explore how much of this representation was true by spending time with and interviewing local breastfeeding mothers.

My own breastfeeding journey was very difficult and this lead me to challenge preconceptions of breastfeeding.

 

I collaborated with local mothers who attended the well established Thornton Breastfeeding Network Group.

Wednesdays 12-1.30pm, Wyre Breastfeeding Group, Thornton Children’s Centre, Heys Street, Thornton Cleveleys, FY5 4JP

The Breastfeeding Network offers breastfeeding support and information.  This comes in the form of trained staff and volunteers and support groups.

 

The importance of the project was that mothers choose the location that they wanted to represent breastfeeding to others mothers, most mothers chose a public location.  It was important for them to show the normality of breastfeeding.  In depth interviews were conducted centered around their own breastfeeding experiences and the wider context of breastfeeding.

To complete the project I created a book based on the feedback from the mothers, entitled iBreastfeed.  The book contains information regarding all the local groups available to attend, at least one for every week day.  Portraits of the mothers and their babies, accompanied by relevant quotes, and an extensive list of local businesses and locations that are declared breastfeeding friendly.

  Thornton Group

  Katie & George     Lee & Lucas

  Morrisons Cafe

  Sally & Zachery

  Helena & Masie

  Katie & Bethany

Adrian Warrell

This is a project untaken with the help of Adrian Warrell, an Historical Interpreter and friend.

I have know Adrian for over 15 years and always fascinated in the treasure trove that is his home. One can look about the room, the normal things exist,  but then there are the shields, swords, helmets, roman armour and shoes, medieval boots, military boots, saxon boots, boats, flags and standards.  I most distinctly remember from one of my first visits a draw full of glasses covering every period since glasses began.  Adrian’s trade was a Blacksmith making Armour, from which he is semi-retired, causing much disappointment to historical interpreters and re-enactors.  I know for a fact that people appropriated from his bin and consider still that their most prized piece.

Adrian is a real life Mr Benn.  He slots into the period attire as if plucked from the very time, throughout my time knowing him I could not say to which he is best suited.

As the project progressed I realised that actually my interest lay with Adrian himself rather than the history that he recreated.  And so I undertook a series of environmental portraits of him in his home, a labyrinth of wealth to discover even a secret passage.  He has very specifically designed his house in order to hold the normal daily things one requires for living, however, for every period Iron Age to modern day!

 

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