Marianne McGurk

Master of Photography

Instagram

About me

I incorporate found, everyday objects in my work to create extraordinary, often absurd portraits, landscapes and still lives. I create props, characters and scenarios in the studio and outdoors, usually working with people I know. This performative process of staging and engaging with the subjects, objects and materials I select is crucial to how each series of works develop.
All of my work attempts to capture a transformative moment for the subject or object. I am interested in the surreal, un-spectacular, fleeting, in-between moments, in shifting states and how we deal with the inevitable. I am interested in exploring our individual lived experience and at what points we connect with each other and our environment.

Ode to Mother is an exploration of grief after the death of my mother. At its core it is anchored in loss and trauma, but what has unfolded is a multiplicity into absence-presence, motherhood, beauty, fragility and metamorphosis. Through art I have found a way to memorialise my relationship with my mother, which helps with continuing bonds. The photographs provide us with visual memory and a tangible form to hold onto.

External

  • 2021 Photoworks+ The Graduate Issue student selection
  • 2021 Vice X Photobook store student selection
  • 2011 Source Photographic Review Student Selection
  • 2011 AOP Student awards, Judges Choice Award
  • 2012 The Photographers Gallery, Fresh Faced and Wild Eyed Mentorship Award

She was gone but, in that moment, looking at those lipsticks she was present, right there in front of me. Represented in crystal form.

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I have purposely dug up my grief. Exhumed the bones of it, to sit, walk and talk to it, to be in the dark with it and ultimately to make art with it.

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My mother took real pride in her appearance. She was a pub landlady; she commanded respect and displayed a classicism in her appearance. She had to display a certain type of armour in looking authoritarian.

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Each time I photographed another series of the lipsticks it was part of the process of uncovering the layers of the trauma and working through the memories of my mother.

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Writing, reflecting, re-photographing and ultimately spending time with my mother.

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Embarking on this project about grief during a time of global loss enables the project to connect with a wider audience. Everyone has at some point within the past year and a half experienced loss.

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Digesting grief is a bitter pill to swallow. It is messy and erratic, it detaches us from reality, picks us up like a tornado, swirls us around with memories of the person left behind.

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These crystallised lipsticks are highly delicate, the crystals can be knocked off easily, but underneath the crystals lay the perfectly preserved lipstick.

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Caught in a loop of re-photographing the lipsticks for 18 months in a myriad of ways. Searching for something yet at the time not being able to articulate what I was searching for.

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Through working through the processes, I now fully understand that what I was searching for was in fact my mother. By repeatedly re-photographing the lipsticks it enabled me to be with her..

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Keywords: grief, loss, trauma, lipstick, mother, memorilisation, art therapy, phototherapy, memorial, art as catalogue, grief theory, still life