Open Eye Gallery: In Conversation: Photography on Wellbeing

Open Eye Gallery: In Conversation: Photography on Wellbeing

Open Eye Gallery: In Conversation: Photography on Wellbeing

Venue: Open Eye Gallery
Date(s): 30.9.22
Time(s): 18:00 - 20:00


Photography on Wellbeing is a collaboration between artists Nicola Lewis-Dixon and Marianne McGurk. Their work explores the theme of wellbeing in photography through creative practice. Marianne and Nicola have addressed difficult times in their lives, Through their artistic practice they have used creativity and expression as a tool to help them process trauma and grief.

Nicola and Marianne formed Photography on Wellbeing as they both recognised that creativity can be a tool which can help us deal with and process emotions sometimes too difficult to verbalise. The aims of Photography on Wellbeing are to improve the wellbeing of people through creativity, hosting workshops, conversations, exhibitions and events.

‘Collaborating on Photography on Wellbeing is a way for us to take this work into the community, share our research, knowledge and understanding of creativity as a tool to improve wellbeing.’

Nicola and Marianne will be discussing their latest projects, ‘This is how she lives on’ and ‘Goosebumps’ and how they both used photography as a cathartic act and how through their practice they came to form the collaboration Photography on Wellbeing.

Marianne McGurk’s project titled ‘This is how she lives on’ is a study on grief after the death of her mother. At its core it is anchored in loss and trauma, but what unfolded was an exploration into absence, presence, motherhood, beauty, fragility and metamorphosis. Through drawing, sculpting and photographing her mother’s collection of lipsticks, ephemera and memories Marianne faced the layers of trauma and grief surrounding her mother’s death.

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

The body of work questions the ways in which we memorialise our dead and looks at the ways in which we can process grief and trauma through artistic practice.

Nicola’s latest project titled Goosebumps explored her own healing journey after emergency hysterectomy and cancer treatment. Nicola took to foraging and wild swimming as a way to reclaim and heal her broken body during the lockdowns. Nicola recorded her swims with video and this became a cathartic act of reclaim, both her mental and physical health soared.

‘This project was conceived by chance as I happen to admire my goosebumps during a fleeting moment captured on film. This simple act of survival gives me a surge of warmth and appreciation after many years of cancer and infection using my human form as a battleground subsequently resulting in an emergency hysterectomy. As I grieve my old body, I feel a sense of loss. A loss of femininity, a de-sexualisation and a lack of maternity. My goosebumps gave me a glimmer of hope for what the future could hold and an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I was gifted with time to slowly adapt to my alienated body and build an appreciation for what it could be’

Image: Nicola Lewis-Dixon