‘us’ was a photographic and text collaboration I did with my mother Catherine McEwan commissioned for the Malaga Fotomanias photography festival 2011, in an exhibition curated by artist curator Maria Cobo.
The exhibition, ‘Otros Caminos Por Explorar‘ examined intersections between health, wellbeing, and creativity.
Over a period of one month, from January to February 2011, we worked together to creatively explore together these themes through our own relationship and experiences (Catherine, 64, has had M.E (chronic fatigue syndrome) since 1985) via a playful exchange of photography and text, which we did via email.
The work for this exhibition reflects and documents this process and dialogue, presenting a range of photographic and textual elements including a photo dialogue, a photo blog, text, and photocollage alongside an archive of family photographs.
‘us’ was a deeply meaningful collaboration for us both. Here’s some of our reflections on doing the project.
Catherine: I wasn’t sure what to expect before we began the Project. It was an exciting thought to be collaborating with my daughter Jean on something creative, but I was apprehensive about my ability to be creative enough on a daily basis to produce images and to respond to Jean’s. Having ME/CFS can erode your confidence for several reasons, with fluctuating energies and frequent infections. Once we started however the project took on it’s own creative momentum. I have learned so much in this time. About photography, about art and communication, about Jean, about myself, about the depth of love in our relationship.
Jean: This project has been one of deep creative and personal engagement for me. Through the simple daily exchange of photographs and text, I have learned so much about the mysterious and complex nature of our mother/daughter communication – how much we share, and where we are different. Sometimes I was amazed at the synergy that happened between us – in our exchange of images, often we wouldn’t need to explain why we responded to the other in a particular way – we just ‘knew’. At other times I was surprised by Catherine’s responses. Through a practice and dynamic of mutual acceptance, openness , cooperation and respect, the project has brought us closer together and enriched our relationship, both creatively and emotionally.I come to the end of the project with a greater understanding of me and ‘us’ , and a profound sense of love for my mother.
Of Dreaming Faces
Of Dreaming Faces was a year long collaboration with musician Ian Tothill, in which we jointly explored ways to combine our practices in a live context. The result was ‘Fortunes’, a 50 minute audio-visual performance piece , which was performed at South Square Gallery, Bradford, Theatre in The Mill, Bradford, and Hebden Bridge Trades Club, 2008-9.
‘Monday’: live mix excerpt from Fortunes