Personal work is your research, it’s your voice. It is a reflection of the critical perspective with which you perceive and understand the world.
Caroline Molloy is the Programme Director of Fine Art and Photography at UCA Farnham. She’s also busy completing a practice led PhD that looks at the performance of transcultural identity in studio photography at the centre for photographic history and theory, Birbeck, University of London. She holds Masters Degrees from The Royal College of Art, and in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths University.
Prior to this Caroline specialised in editorial portraiture working for magazines and newspapers but a Masters degree helped change her perspective. She says, “Being an editorial photographer seemed great at the time but you get to a stage where don’t want to do the same thing any more. I needed to rethink and it made sense to change direction.”
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL PROJECT?
Women of Walsall is a series of 120 portraits that have been made of local women during a residency in Walsall. The body of work that evolved through this residency aims to raise the visibility of women in the market town of Walsall. By this I mean, I am interested in bringing together and celebrating the collective community of women of Walsall.
A pop-up photography studio was set up in several community spaces and in exchange for a family portrait, project participants agreed that their portrait can be used in the WoW project.
HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?
I had been working with my mother on a project called In Correspondence with my Mother in which we discussed our material familial history through family photographs.
I was particularly interested in the photographs of my grandmother, in her work clothes as a dinner lady and the socio-cultural politics that flowed through these images when in discussion with my mother. This made me curious to think about the socio-politics of a contemporary dinner lady.
I’m interested in the representation of women and my initial idea was to work with a small group of dinner ladies in Walsall, and use portrait photography to iconise and raise the visibility of this profession. This proposal was accepted with the stipulation I was attached to a community garden in Walsall and the project expanded beyond the initial idea to look at the breadth of Women in Walsall.
WHAT’S THE OUTCOME OF THE PROJECT?
This body of work only exists because of the 148 collaborators who contributed to its making. These are the sitters in the photographs, the many hands that made it happen, particularly the initial start-up fund from the Living Memory Project and the team at Walsall for All.
The work has already been reshaped for different audiences. In order to engage the participants with the final outcome of the work, it was first shown at the ‘Raising her Voice’ event in St Pauls the Crossing in Walsall at an event for International Womens day. This was followed by a formal introduction of the work and a panel discussion, which I chaired, that included prominent women in the West-Midlands. A selection of the work has since been published in the Living Memory publication and edited into a film which is narrated by a spoken word poet from the West-Midlands.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE GALLERY OR ART WEBSITE
I am an avid fan of the work of Autograph who for some years have been showing photography that examines identity, representation, human rights & social justice.
WHO’S YOUR PROFESSIONAL SOURCE OF INSPIRATION?
I am in admiration of a number of organisations who are raising the visiblity of marginilised voices, including the Women in Photography research project at UCA Farnham, Grain Photography Hub in the West-Midlands who are doing great work around photography and cultural identity, Source magazine for getting us to think with photography,