Leonie has always worked on the concept of family, carrying out stories and photographic essays among the most diverse family units: in Cuba, in the Parisian banlieuex, in London, Rome…
In the shadow of things, the exhibition presented at Forma, gathers intimate shots taken inside the household. This time around though, the family unit portrayed is that of the author herself.
According to the tradition, it is the mother figure that represents the heart around which the members of a family revolve; it is so also in this case even if in a very different way.
Piles, almost layers of things, objects are the manifest and intrusive trace of the presence of her mother’s Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The illness pushes her to accumulate, tidy up and destroy what she had just organised. A tacit agreement bonds the entire family – Leonie, her brothers, her partner and her mother’s husband – in the sincere and loving effort to assist healing, with the awareness that the eccentric relationship the mother has established with the family, and with the rest of the world, is loaded with awkward and pathological aspects, but that are also tender, funny and in the end, full of love.
For some years Leonie, established photographer, decided to document the different moments of this delicate family relation. A house full of unusable rooms, lives marked by incomprehensible rituals, loud laughters and desperate crying. Leonie does not want to or can afford to be a silent witness: she herself is part of these images that portray affection, warmth, surreal atmospheres hovering between fable and nightmare.
The photographic essay is articulated in a series of warm and at times, poetic images, veiled by a dim light and soft colours as if they were about to fade out. Yet a strong energy keeps this incredible family album together: the awareness that if the strength of personal ties is the reason why a family is so, Leonie’s is not a lesser family, and the honest affection that bonds the actors of this “play” is told with a sincere, melancholic and indestructible love.
“When I was photographing other people’s families I felt like I was trying to chisel something away. Or trying to crack an egg, to get inside, while the process of photographing my own family feels quite the opposite: I’m trying to get out of the egg”
The exhibition is accompanied by a book published by Contrasto.
Leonie Hampton Purchas was born in Great Britain in 1978. After studying Art History, she has worked as assistant to photojournalist Tom Stoddart. She has won numerous awards, among which the Ian Parry Sunday Times Young Photographer, the Jerwood Photography Prize, a scholarship from the British Arts Foundation, the Paul Huf Award and the F award for concerned photography.
Her work has been exhibited across the world. Hampton regularly holds photo workshops in her London atelier.
In the shadow of things has won the F Award’s second edition for concerned photography, organised by Fondazione Forma per la fotografia and Fabrica, communications research centre of the Benetton Group.