I began this project after an incredibly tough year, possibly the most difficult of my life so far. I became a mother for the second time, my appearance changed dramatically and I was trying to balance motherhood, very little sleep with my attempts to earn money and create some semblance of a career for myself.
I've always been connected to the female experience, not just my female experience but the diversity of the female experience and what connects those experiences.
Social media has changed a lot for women, we share more and in doing that we choose what we share more and of course that means also choosing what we do not share. I became acutely aware of this after a particularly difficult period and possibly an encounter with some form of post-natal depression. I looked back over my many posts and I realised that what I was putting out there was doing a disservice to women, mothers and therefore of course myself. My kids laughing, being clumsy, silly things they said, us together being highly functional (hill walking, cooking healthy food, having a picnic) as a family. Those things happened of course but what was not represented was the crying (so much crying!) and shouting, the total desperation I felt and expressed on a daily basis, the kids needing more than I could give them (their needs felt overwhelming at points) my marriage taking a beating, my eating habits, my appearance...
The disparity between what I chose to share and what I chose to keep private got me thinking about the numerous (and well discussed) pressures women feel. Pressures from many, many angles and pressures that affect our behaviour often without us even knowing it. It's simple, for me, as a woman, I often feel pressure to perform. I wanted to explore these pressures in a simple way, a way that was accessible in both concept and execution. My thoughts immediately settled on appearance, something I myself feel constant pressure to regulate, as do most women out there.
So, the concept is simple, no makeup, natural hair and natural light. I feel I should make clear that I am not advocating being makeup free over wearing makeup, I love to wear makeup and take pleasure in the art of applying it. This is not a statement for or against makeup but a simple exploration of 'performance' and the pressures on women to perform. All women.
Many women have already volunteered their precious time and beautiful faces to be part of this project which I have titled 'As Others See Us' after the Robert Burns quote 'O wad some pow'r the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us'.
You can see the portraits from this series so far here
If you are in or near Edinburgh and would like to take part in this portrait series, please do get in touch and I love to hear thoughts on this project, good or bad.