TRCH Priscilla

Art Review: The Luminous at Surface Gallery

22 November 18 words: Alex Kuster

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which can be difficult to determine in a day and age where we have social media ramming it’s notion of a ‘perfect’ woman down our throats left right and center. What if we knocked down those barriers and took a look at the extraordinary ordinary and gave them a platform to shine, to be luminous. That is what photographer Laura Dicken and The Renewal Trust have worked to complete alongside several of our very own women from Sneinton…

At Surface Gallery for a few short days will be the faces of Sneinton's women, showing us that if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then we are seeing it in all it’s most true and diverse forms.

The Renewal Trust has curated a project that hopes to challenge mainstream notions of beauty. The project begun by inviting women who lived in Sneinton to a free natural skincare workshop run by Sadie Houston. This is where they met each other and were able to learn how to make beauty products using simple ingredients they could find in their homes. This is also where they were able to form a relationship on a more personal level with photographer Laura Dicken. She told me it was key to the project for the women to meet her as a person, not just behind a lens. The women were then given the opportunity to have a portrait made by Laura, somewhere within Sneinton in a location where they felt most confident, wearing whatever they felt most beautiful in.

I sat down with Laura to talk a little bit more about her involvement with The Luminous and she told me how much of a turning point it felt to be for her career. She said that: “because this was all women there was something, like a responsibility that I felt, that was magnified. I feel very protective of them.” And you can absolutely see how trusting the women were through their photographs. The vulnerability that shines through is certainly part of the beauty behind them. And Laura said that the women all had a few nerves about having their photographs taken and that most of them admitted that they didn’t like having their photograph taken in general. She told me that most of them admitted that they were very self conscious about the way that they looked and actually a lot of the women said that they weren’t beautiful. Which seems insane given how taken aback I was by the exhibition.

a lot of the women said that they weren’t beautiful

Hopefully what this exhibition will do is display beauty in a multitude of forms. Because the women are all beautiful. They are different ages, they are different ethnicities. They are from different faith backgrounds or no faith backgrounds. Walking around Surface I could not believe how varied and special each photograph was to the woman it was representing. The images are so personal and so raw that I felt like I knew these women. And with all the women inhabiting Sneinton, maybe I do. Maybe we’ve sat beside each other in a cafe before, or been to the same film at Broadway, or compared oranges in Murat simultaneously. The most beautiful thing is that these women are existing alongside us all and what a wonderful thing to see them in the gallery space.

You can see more of Laura's work on her Instagram and stay updated with future projects.

The Renewal Trust website

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