I am currently working on a series of asylum patient portraits from the nineteenth century, informed by the archives from Glenside Hospital, (then known as Bristol Lunatic Asylum). The practice of photographing patients upon admission into an asylum was commonplace, these photographs were then included in the patients' case file books.
I am interested in the emotions, judgements and biases that a photographic image can evoke in this context. The photographs were generally front-facing headshots with no elaborate poses or dramatic gesticulation. Free from any obvious emotional displays, the resulting image is intense and concentrated.
Despite their straightforward, practical intention, the photographs are stirring. Subtle expressions provide a glimpse into the emotional state of a person facing incarceration. It is these subtleties that I am drawn to and aim to capture in my paintings.
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