Hangmen of England: Moyra Davey

Valerie Plame 2013 - Patrick M Higgins Photography
Valerie Plame 2013 – Patrick M Higgins Photography

by Patrick M Higgins 

The Canadian photographer, film-maker and writer, Moyra Davey is currently showing work at the Tate Liverpool in the LOOK/13  Parallel Programme.

A shelved book featured in one of the images that go to make this new work at the Tate, gives the exhibition its title; Hangmen of England and underlines the enigmatic nature of Davey’s work; an unhurried consideration of the familiar, laced with a sense of beauty and melancholy.

The work Valerie Plame 2013, has been created from photographs taken recently in Liverpool and the North West. Davey posted them back to the city from New York;  folded, labelled and franked. They reveal Davey’s skill of closely observing the realities of daily life, while recording the destructive passage of time.

Copperhead detail - Patrick M Higgins Photography
Copperhead detail – Patrick M Higgins Photography

The incidental damage to the prints on their journey home is a theme Davey explores further in her acclaimed work Copperhead 101-200 2013. A new version, shown for the first time at the Tate, Copperhead is a collection of one hundred studies of the Lincoln cent observed in stages of decay. Impressive as a body and fascinating in its detail, the elements of wear and ageing are underscored by the consistent practice of the artist to mail her work to its exhibition place.

Kevin Ayers 2013 draws the eye to the ritualistic movement of hands over record sleeves and around the much loved 12 inch vinyl . A vinyl culture surviving despite society’s altered listening habits, is celebrated and captured in these vivid photographic fragments.


Moyra Davey’s seemingly casual images collected from her immediate vicinity are drawn together by themes of rediscovery and re-evaluation; an ensemble approach that illuminates the whole in a unique fashion.

Moyra Davey - Patrick M Higgins Photography
Moyra Davey – Patrick M Higgins Photography

Davey validates this body of work with an insight into the nature of her creative process. She provides text relating the images to her self-confessed, sometimes obscure inspiration. The result is an intriguing visual experience, both challenging and ultimately rewarding.


Hangmen of England

at Tate Liverpool until 6 October 2013