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  • Charlotte Chapple

Visiting The Open Eye Gallery

Visiting The Open Eye Gallery - Kinship Exhibition in Liverpool

I never really tried portrait photography before entering university.

I’m not going to lie, I at first found the genre rather uninteresting and had little to no intention of ever taking portrait photos. However, though the first year of my course I have been able to gain interest and develop an understanding of the genre. This helped me when visiting Kinshipat Open Eye Gallery as I was able to really look at the images and think about the photographer’s intentions. The exhibition navigates the dynamics of modern relationships and presents projects from seven female photographers, addressing traditional ideas of how people might relate to others based on their gender, age, or position within a family.

The exhibition is relatively small but spread across two floors with the work from each photographer shown on a different wall. What I really liked about the exhibition is how each photographers’ work is displayed in a different ways. Some displayed in consistent fashion with equal sized prints set against brown card, whilst another photographers prints vary from medium to large and are set out in a way that draws the eye through the narrative.

Whilst portrait photography is still not exactly my cup of tea, I did find some of the work shown very interesting and found the artists statements that accompanied the images very useful in understanding the narrative. Some of my personal favorites come from Lydia Goldblatt’s series, Still Here. The series is based around her father, following him through the experience of living with dementia during the last years of his life. Goldblattalso includes images of her mother going through the experience of losing someone, alongside close-up images of moments and objects that act as visual poetry, which I found very appealing.

The portraits taken by Jenny Lewis capture the intimacy of women with their newborn children on the very first day of their lives together. The title of each image is the name of the mother and child leaving the viewer to decide which is which. What I really like about her work is how, rather than photographing mothers in hospitals, she visits them in their homes, creating a more warming and comfortable atmosphere in her images. Out of her work displayed, I felt most drawn to Clementine and Imogen. The emotional power of this image is really what caught my attention. The way the mother is looking directly at the camera with a worn out yet happy and hopeful expression is very emotive for the viewer and really drew my attention to the piece.

Visiting the exhibition definitely gave me a new-found appreciation for portrait photography. Whilst I am still unsure and not overly passionate about the genre, the exhibition has inspired me to try and take more of my own portrait photos and extend my knowledge and experience of the genre as a whole. And who knows, I may even find my own niche!

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