Photography Down The Line with Rosy Martin (recorded: 24 August 2021)
Ben Harman, Director of Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, speaks to Rosy Martin.
Rosy Martin (born in London, 1946) is an artist-photographer, psychological-therapist, workshop leader, lecturer and writer. She explores the relationships between photography, memory, identities and unconscious processes using self-portraiture, still life photography and video. Starting in 1983, working with the late Jo Spence, she evolved and developed a new photographic practice- phototherapy - incorporating re-enactments. Through embodiment, they explored the psychic and social construction of identities within the drama of the everyday. Her ‘therapeutic gaze’ provides a safe space for exploring one’s own stories in profoundly innovative ways.
Exhibiting Internationally and publishing widely since 1985, she has investigated issues including gender, sexuality, ageing, class, location, shame and family dynamics. Her photographic practice is grounded in research, the subjects arise from personal lived experiences, yet communicate to a broad audience. For example in ‘Transforming the suit: what does a lesbian look like?’ 1987 she played with different historical and contemporary stereotypes to challenge simplistic assumptions.
She used still life and video in ‘Too close to home?’ to explore the experiences of pre-bereavement, loss, grief and reparation by focusing upon her childhood home as a metaphor/metonym for both her father and mother, anticipating and mourning their deaths. She researched working-class suburban life inspired by this semi-detached house, almost unchanged since the 1930s. In ‘The end of the line’ she photographed through tears a soft and melancholy goodbye to her roots.
On turning fifty, her focus became contesting the dominant representations of ageing women, a subject she has returned to in her seventies. Using humour, play and parody the ageing body is reconfigured as present, joyous and defiant.
Martin has run intensive experiential phototherapy workshops and given lectures in Universities and Galleries throughout Britain, the USA, Canada, Eire and Finland. She also ran workshops in community settings, including a women's prison, projects with survivors of sexual abuse and school-based projects on digital identities. She held lecturing posts in photographic theory, art history and visual culture at Universities in UK.