London based artist Helen McGhie is currently an MA Photography student at the Royal College of Art, whose work combines photography and moving image to explore ideas surrounding female identity. She talks us through her most recent project ‘Fitting Rooms’.
TALK US THROUGH THE PROJECT?
Fitting Rooms is a body of work that I have been working on whilst studying at the RCA. The images are created by photographing fragmented glimpses of individuals trying on outfits in high street shop fitting rooms, shot from underneath the door of another cubical. The project has developed from my interest in the idea of ‘in-between’ spaces, which I understand as concealed public spaces that provide individuals with a temporary private moment detached from society’s demanding surroundings.
The performative foot gestures in Fitting Rooms are intriguing as their vulnerable exposure could signify the anxieties some individuals may have when trying to ‘fit in’ to the latest fashion garment, or into the dress size which they were sure would fit. And by photographing these moments, I have been distracted from facing the three-way reflective mirrors and harsh lighting that may expose the concerns I have about my own appearance.
WHAT WERE YOUR AIMS FOR THE PROJECT?
It is important that images in the Fitting Rooms series relate to the idea of an ‘in-between’ space, which I have intentionally referenced by presenting many of the feet/door details as cropped fragments within a larger (often bleak) image frame. To further enhance the project, I intend to approach documenting fitting rooms differently by photographing details of the space within my inhabited booth. I’m also keen to collect quotes from women about their individual fitting room experiences, which I may consider exhibiting alongside photographs in the future.
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DEVELOP FURTHER?
I intend to continue producing new photographs to develop the series, which not only capture fragments of other people, but also the traces that are left behind by previous cubical occupants such as rubbish, hangers and garment price stickers. I am also considering experimenting with the moving image to capture the different atmospheres found in fitting rooms.
Since exhibiting my photographs at the RCA’s Work in Progress exhibition, I have made the decision to experiment with producing much larger scale photographs to dominate the gallery space, which I would be keen to display in a future exhibition.