Last week we had the privilege of hosting the lovely Bethan Laurence-McGuffie at our monthly SSGs meeting and what an inspirational time it was…..
Bethan has just come to the end of her second year as a photography student at the University here in Swansea and she shared with us some of the journey she has been on. Having started out with projects that addressed issues such as children growing up too early and mental health, Bethan moved on to looking into her own family history. What she discovered was a past that she knew very little about and in the process, found photos and slides of her ancestors that told a story she hadn’t heard before.
Inspired by the concept of ‘appropriation’ from artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Bethan began to take the old photos and make them her own including ‘glitches’ and merging shots to create new scenes. Other photographers that have influenced Bethan include Sally Munn, John Stezaker and Alma Haser.
As faith is a central part of Bethan’s life, she then moved on to create a book based on Bible verses that were influential in individuals lives inspired by Psalm 139 (“I was woven together in the dark of the womb”) merging these passages with images of people. Looking into the past and significant objects, Bethan also included several of her photos of symbolic objects that represented people in her life. Objects that meant something precious to her.
I know that for all of us that were there that night found Bethan and her work really encouraging in our pursuit of photography as a means of exploration and art as opposed to the ‘pretty picture’ that we sometimes fall into the trap of. Maybe we can persuade her to come and share again at the end of her third year…..???