The Grid – All printed and handed over for inspection.
January 18, 2012
Please find below my project synopsis and the negatives scanned and turned into basic j-pegs. Apologies for the quality – the real prints are much better! Any comments would be very welcome…
A Gentle Eminence
In 1760 a grand house was built on a private estate in Llanwern, just to the east of Newport. It stood for just under 200 years and was home to Baronets, Lords and Viscounts. Its last owner, Margaret Haig Thomas, daughter of Viscount Rhondda, Minister of Supplies during WWI, became a suffragette, company director, proprietor of the magazine, ‘Time and Tide’ and for her entire adult life, a campaigner for women’s rights. It is because of Viscountess Rhondda that women are able to vote in The House of Lords.
In 1952, the house was demolished and following her death in 1956, Viscountess Rhondda almost disappeared from history. She is there, if one looks closely enough: in a few paragraphs ‘on-line’ that focus on feminist or Parliament ‘s history. But for the general populace, she has been lost, along with the house.
‘A Gentle Eminence’ is a personal response to Margaret Haig Thomas’ story and a search for traces of her in the landscape.
Made using a 5 x 4 field camera and hand-printed, the final prints incorporate the repeated motifs of barriers, pathways and light: metaphorical symbols which are intended to encourage the viewer to pause and reflect. The deliberate subtlety of some of the images hints at the feminist subtext of the work. For here is a female photographer working in the male dominated landscape genre, in order to tempt the viewer to wonder about a historical figure, that has been ‘almost lost’: perhaps because of her gender.
The title, ‘A Gentle Eminence’ is taken from travel writing, unearthed in The National Library of Wales and dates from 1802. Whilst the phrase relates to the land on which the house stood, it also symbolises Margaret Haig Thomas in the artist’s mind.