It's Nice That got in touch recently for an interview about In This Place and Family projects. Thanks to Rebecca Fulleylove who wrote a really nice piece on the work. Amongst other things I was asked about the challenges in doing the work as well as recounting what it was like to photograph my family back in 1994. For me this type of work - as most photography - carries a large amount of responsibility with it, in both representing correctly and involving throughout the people that are photographed. That is a separate post in itself and one I'll get round to writing as it is massively important to the way I work.
One of my portraits from In This Place has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards. The portrait is of Steven that I took in January 2017. I am really excited to be a finalist for this award whose theme this year is "Defining Family'. Winners will be announced in mid July and the exhibition is on in September. I'll post more details later. I also want to write about why having this particular photo shortlisted means a lot to me. That's for my next post!
Thank you to Photomonitor the review of In This Place as part of the group show 'Ambit: Photographies from Scotland' at Street Level Photoworks.
'A stand out work is Margaret Mitchell's In This Place, an intimate family documentary that also relates to huge social and political questions.... Stunning environmental portraits balance vulnerability and strength, and interior and exterior details of their homes reveal a sense of stasis, alternating between frustration and acceptance. A limited edition newsprint publication accompanies the work, and gallery visitors who don't at least flip through it are missing out. Beautifully constructed text adds important nuances and background on these individual's stories, relating them to wider questions of class, urban renewal, and as the artist says 'choice -do we have choices in life or are some predetermined to an extent and made for us?'
Clare Samuel, from her review of Ambit in Photomonitor
Ambit is a new partnership between Street Level Photoworks and Stills, Scotland’s public venues dedicated to photography. The exhibition will be presented across both venues as a joint venture embracing some of the current tendencies and innovative talent from the art photography sector in Scotland.
Margaret Mitchell's In This Place looks at family and home, connections and place and touches on issues of social and personal inertia. Behind a personal familial connection sits a larger narrative of social mobility, environment and choice. Do we have choices in life or are some predetermined to an extent and made for us?
Fundamentally, this is a story of people’s lives: what they do and what they want. Where the ‘place’ is both mental and physical: where we put ourselves and where we are put, sometimes by others and sometimes by circumstance. What puts us there, what keeps us there, and do we want to be there?
I love (most) web stuff, I love photography, I really love portraiture. I also like to know why photographers choose the people to photograph that they do; what the story is behind the work; the ideas we do not see sometimes when the work is shared, printed and exhibited.
So I started up an online journal where I ask for contributions from photographers of a portrait and a story. This has been in my planning bit of my brain for a long time so I am very happy to have it launched. I am very grateful to those who are generously contributing and sending me their story and image.
It is just started so you can check out the great stories there to date and follow the website on Facebook where I'll post new stories as they are submitted. You can also read a little on why I am doing this over on The Story Portrait website. Thanks to everyone who has agreed to take part so far.
I will be giving a talk at Edinburgh Napier University on Tuesday the 24th January 2017 at 5:30pm at Merchiston Campus. I graduated myself from Napier in 1994 and am thrilled to be going back as part of their Creative Lecture Series.
It was lovely (and a nice surprise) to see The Guisers feature on It's Nice That's Best of the Web on the 2nd December. A special mention to 'Victorian Gentleman' which you can see below. I am looking forward to extending the project to nearly 40 images. Updates will be posted as the text from participants is completed.
I've been working on 'The Guisers' Project for a little bit recently. A guiser is a child who at Halloween goes around the neighbours' doors and in return for 'a turn' (a party-piece involving a song, joke, dance, mini-play etc) gets some sweets and fruit usually. Many people don't realise this still happens in Scotland and think that it is all 'trick or treat' which is from the U.S. Guising predates the American version and this tradition was taken to the U.S. by immigrants from various Celtic origins, and along with other cultural influences became the American ‘trick or treat’.
A guiser is “in disguise” and in this project the children and young teens present themselves in their costumes and share their thoughts on why they chose to dress up as they did.
The minds of children are fascinating as they grow and develop their sense of self and this project allows the children to also have a voice.
The images were all taken at Halloween, just before the participants left to go out guising. More is planned for 2016 so check back for an expanded project soon.
See 'The Guisers'
These two photos show a mother and a daughter over the space of more than 20 years. In 1994 I made a series of work entitled Family, the full set of images can be viewed on the website. The image above is from an ongoing project which catches up with the children in the original series to tell their current stories. More work will be posted as it develops.
On Monday 13th June at 7pm in the CCA, Glasgow, I will be talking about my work on epilepsy made between 1993 and now. I will discuss (printed) media representation, stigma and myth within a broader context of photographic representation of disability (specifically epilepsy). I will frame this within a narrative of the responsibility of representation that photographers have and discuss how this work has informed my practice in general.
Installation photos from the exhibition on at the CCA Intermedia Gallery. Three pieces of work made up the show, Secondary Stigmas (prints), The Media Epileptic (newspaper) and Personal Myths (book). Thu 9 June – Sun 19 June 2016 Tue-Sat: 11am-6pm // Sun: 12noon-6pm // Free Preview: Wed 8 Jun, 6pm-8pm