On the Cusp

“On the Cusp” explores the very beginnings of adolescence. These portraits capture the transitory age of 11-14 years old.

Adolescence occurs between 12-24 years when the brain development is ongoing an ‘integration’, meaning these changes significantly affect how we grow into adults. These are, however, emotional works which affect the viewer depending on their age – either looking back, perhaps with nostalgia, or looking forwards, hopefully with excitement and aspiration.

Two sources have helped me to begin to understand what is happening in adolescence and why it is a fascinating time that I want to document and explore through portraiture. They are “The Brain Story” – an online course, and a talk (and book) by Dan Siegel “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain”.

Dan Siegel gives a very helpful definition of adolescence. It is different to puberty. Adolescence is what happens due to crucial remodelling of the brain between about 12-24 years. Puberty is the hormonal changes to the body. And you can have one without the other, for example, adolescence beginning without sign of puberty and visa versa.

They are original prints, made using the photopolymer process. This is an intaglio printmaking method. The drawing is made on a transparent, slightly textured, plastic (brand name: “Mark Resist”) using ink, pencil, graphite, crayons. It is then exposed onto a photopolymer plate using UV light.