Portraits change the way we understand one another. Whether this is professional photos, selfies on Instagram or snapshots of our friends, the photos that we take of ourselves and each other speak volumes about who we are and who we want to be. Through portraits, we come face to face with someone else: they create a space in which we can challenge the assumptions that we often hold about people. This exhibition presents projects that give us a chance to empathise, to consider the experience of someone else’s life.
SIXTEEN asks ‘what’s it like to be sixteen years old now’? Craig Easton invited leading photographers to join him and collaborate with more than one hundred and seventy young people from across the UK to explore their hopes and fears. Open Eye Gallery has selected work by four of the female photographers in the group: Linda Brownlee, Lottie Davis, Jillian Edelstein and Kate Peters. Using photography, writing, and social media these portraits, and the wider SIXTEEN portfolio, give prominence to voices rarely heard.
In another project, Open Eye Gallery worked with Vida Creative Learning, a local group of young women who come together to work on photography projects as a way to build resilience and increase self-esteem. The group made a selection of work from the gallery’s archive, guided by their interest in what people wear, how they choose to appear in photos and and how this expresses their identity. Their selections include work from recent years and older projects, including Teresa Eng, Yan Wang Preston, Michelle Sank, Dave Turner and John McDonald.
Before 2012, the last time the Olympic games took place in the UK was 1948. Katherine Green met with the surviving athletes, and took portraits of them as they looked at photos of themselves competing 64 years before the 2012 games. She also recorded their memories as they shared them out loud; these recordings are presented alongside their portraits. The Olympians seeks to allow everyone to consider the rich lives that older people have lived, encouraging reflection on the stories and experiences that exist in all generations.