READ THIS BOOK
Read This Book Feature, Summer 2018
Jeannie Davidson was born in Edinburgh in the same year as the NHS.
She has lived in London since 1974, reluctantly leaving her beloved home city to accompany her former husband to London. The city now feels completely like home, though Edinburgh retains pride of place.
Jeannie is deeply curious about cultural movements and how ‘tribes’ and affiliations function, questioning what tribe she is now in. She involves herself in projects aimed at making a difference and enriching lives.
From If It's Not One Thing, It's Our Mothers by Jeannie Davidson.
There are consistent themes running through the stories in this book, and a wonderful diversity of mother-daughter relationships. The intensity of the connection with the most important person in our lives has yielded many insights that I want to share with others.---Jeannie
'Possibly the worst relationship, showing the worst part of me, has been with my mother. The feelings I felt around her were just awful, to the point where she couldn't do or say anything right.'---Kerry
'My memories are fortunately very good. I feel blessed really that I had such a nice relationship with her.'---Pat
Nancy's wedding day
'I don't know how Mum managed when we came to England. Settling in this cold country, with language barriers and racism, was a real challenge.'---Parminder
'There was a hinterland that I don't feel I ever reached and maybe none of us did. But maybe none of us do with our mothers.'---Hilary
'I had a lot of unfinished business with my mum. That's why this project has been so good for me coming to some kind of acceptance and realising that other people have had similar experiences.'---Hannah
Nancy and her daughter's stroller
'During the process I have thought more and more about the relationship, and what other people have to say about their mothers was so much better than what I had to say about mine. But you get a more rounded picture as you continue talking about it. I thought more about things about her that were good. I needed to get rid of the rage.'---Sue
'I can think now, some years after her death, about what my mother gave me, which was a really strong sense of being a Scotswoman. It's something about having a particular identity and heritage. The night she died there was a crackling thunderstorm. I was lying in her bed in her flat where I was staying in Edinburgh and I remember feeling a jolt of something like lightning going through me. It felt like she was passing something on to me. Now that sounds completely crazy but I just had a sense that she'd passed her essence on to me. It was a lovely feeling, but then I remember really missing her and wondering where she'd gone, having that classic lost child feeling which so many people talk about when a parent dies.'---Jeannie
[Book price is £15 including p and p. Please contact Jeannie.firstname.lastname@example.org for copies.]
A View From The Inside: Alexa Wright
Read This Book Feature, Spring 2018
A View From Inside (2012). A limited edition artist’s book. Ten digital C-Type prints, 76 x 100cm, mounted and framed + limited edition artist’s book.
Working with people who experience episodes of psychosis, Alexa Wright created ten photographic portraits. Whilst the men and women in the presentations appear entirely ‘normal’, their ability to function within society has been affected by the experience of a psychotic ‘disorder’ such as bipolar or schizophrenia. The 18th Century photo settings have been altered, both digitally and physically, to form ‘stage sets’ for the internal experience of each person when she/he is not in consensual reality. These highly constructed settings give clues to each individual’s private world.
Visual, auditory and other sensory phenomena that occur during a psychotic episode contradict accepted notions of ‘reality.’ Yet for one person they are absolutely real. This work asks: what do we mean by reality? It also aims to reduce the stigma that surrounds those who experience mental health issues. In the book that accompanies the exhibition prints, each portrait is accompanied by a statement from the person portrayed.
Alexa Wright is an artist based in London, UK. She uses a wide range of media, including photography, video, sound, interactive installation, performance and book works to explore narratives of otherness through the personal stories of people whose life experiences place them at the boundary of what is acceptably human. At the intersection of art and medical science, Alexa's works explore human inter-subjectivity through qualities like vulnerability and empathy.
Alexa's work has been shown nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include: Piecing it Together, (curator, participatory project), St Pancras Hospital and Tavistock Centre, London (2016-7); Visions in The Nunnery, Bow Arts, London (2016); Hybrid Bodies, KunstKraftWerk, Leipzig, Germany (2016); Phantom Limb, Victoria Museum & Gallery, Liverpool (2016).
Alexa teaches at University of Westminster, where she is Reader in Art and Visual Culture. Her book, ‘Monstrosity: The Human Monster in Visual Culture’ was published by IB Tauris in 2013.