Bolton Artist Reveals Latest Exhibition ‘Identity Crisis’

This morning we bring you news of Bolton artist Helen McGhies latest showcase of her work. The exhibition will be shown as part of the Harris’ Stairway exhibitions program in Preston and will run from the 18th April 2012 – 7th July 2012. Identity Crisis will be made up of three of my photographic projects ‘Desserts’ (2011-12), ‘Ego Entertainment’ (2012) and ‘Ashley House’ (2008). Helen McGhie’s work combines both photography and the moving image to explore ideas surrounding identity and sense of place. The artist is intrigued by photography’s ability to ‘shape’ and emphasise reality and much of her work appropriates existing visual documents in order to provoke the viewer’s understanding of codes within familiar imagery.

Desserts is a series that explores both women’s relationship with food and societies expectations for her ideal appearance. Whilst the lustrous photographic surface and subtly lit food in each image deliberately seek to allure the audience (mirroring media portrayals of femininity), the ‘beauty signifiers’ (hair, false nails etc.) recognised amongst the usually appealing puddings horrifically contaminate the desserts in quickly eliminating any appeal. 

'Tart' (from Desserts)

The unpleasant images seek to illustrate the uncomfortable interior reality of a more honest female identity than media imagery typically represents, whilst exposing the manufactured signifiers of her exterior construction.

'Cake' (from Desserts)

For more images from the series, have a look at my website.

“A game [..] enriches the process of definition of one’s own identity, enabling the individual to reinterpret his/her own experience in the new narrative configurations of that game.” – Rosa Gallelli

'Intimacy vs Isolation (spin the bottle)' (from Ego Entertainment)

Ego Entertainment is a photographic project that uses children’s games to investigate the subject of identity construction in western culture. The psychoanalyst Erik Erikson theorised his understanding of this as the 8 stages of psychosocial development, which Ego Entertainment uses as a starting point. He believed that within each stage, an individual must accept the two conflicting extremes before gaining a ‘virtue’ (favourable outcome) and constituting a stable identity.

Through games of luck, pretend and narrative, images from the series work as a vehicle to illustrate the various stages of an individual’s determination in their search for ego identity. As I currently reside within the ‘Intimacy vs. Isolation’ category, I have made an artistic decision to not yet produce stages 7 and 8.

'Wallpaper & Swimming Pool' (from Ashley House)

You can follow Helen on her website and blog at as well as on Twitter @HelenMcGhie.

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