Reclaim

Reclaim is a series of portraits made in collaboration with service users at Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services DRCSAS.

This work with women supported by DRCSAS has two aims. It hopes to be a contributory tool for women in their recovery, in reclaiming their sense of self and autonomy through a public-facing artwork (although this is can presently only be anecdotally recognised).  Secondly, when the work is exhibited, to provide an opportunity for dialogue on presence of sexual violence in our communities and how to facilitate recovery from trauma and hopeful lives.

My approach has been to approach the subject side-on, a gentler approach that draws people in and allows them the space to listen and create their own response.

They are made using monotype drawing onto a Japanese kozo paper. The 90 individual drawings are then presented to the sitter who chooses which to turn over and which to leave face up. I then stitch them together to create the final work. The paper is slightly translucent so that the trace of the portrait turned over remains partially visible. What is not seen or not heard, is as significant as what we see or hear.

The choice of making the portraits with individual frames and to retain this by stitching them rather than disguise in another way, is to highlight how change happens incrementally, and emphasise that this is a transitory moment.

The counterpart animations are another way of seeing the sitter. But through the movement, the sitter is not passive. She is not sat passively to be looked at, but becomes active in our view. The power balance shifts, and I think, becomes more equal between viewer and sitter. It reflects on the process between myself and the service user; I set up the portrait and make the individual monotype drawings but I relinquish choice in their final rendering as the service user chooses how many of the pictures to turn over or keep facing upwards.