Currently PhD candidate funded through the North of England Consortium for Arts and Humanities (NECAH) based at the Faculty of Arts, Culture and Education at the University of Hull. Working alongside resettled refugee women as co-researchers exploring the role of photography in visual representations of resettled refugee women.
My journalism career began in 1989 as a freelance features writer for UK national newspapers, magazines and books. Commissions and self-initiated projects led to assignments in 60-plus countries, focusing on the view from the ground. Out on that road I became a documentary photographer.
In 2007 I visited Freetown in Sierra Leone – twin city to my birth city of Hull in the UK – to collaborate visually with women attempting to rebuild lives and communities after 11 years of civil war. I returned several times to document what they shared and showed, and to facilitate photography skills’ training for a few of the women who wanted to learn photography for self-representation, self-expression and to earn incomes. From 2007 I devoted my photographic practice to recording the personal narratives of women survivors of war, conflict and genocide, from the First World War through to the Second World War (including the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Nagasaki) Cambodia, Vietnam, Palestine, Israel, and in the US and the UK women forced to flee Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Guatemala, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.
In 2012 I began working alongside resettled women refugees in Hull and East Yorkshire, to co-construct and co-author visual narratives, exhibitions and installations that use both photography and visual art to share insights into the refugee woman’s journey.
My photography work is highly collaborative and immersive, grown from traditional documentary and participatory projects. Working alongside women survivors of war and forced displacement to generate and create new knowledge through recognition of their roles as Custodians of Knowledge, Culture and Identity.
Born in Hull, England in 1966. Grew up on the Greatfield council estate. Currently living in East Yorkshire.
During the Second World War, Hull was the most bombed city outside of London. My mother, Maureen, and grandmother, Olive May Jordan (née Bertholini) survived. Yet they never fully shared their story, how they made sense of war, bombs, grief and uncertainty, nor how they coped after the aftermath. No one asked them, and who would be interested? Their herstories remained untold and are now lost forever.
Olive and Maureen often make a cameo appearance in my projects. The absence of their narratives inspires me to help find ways to appreciate and create shared spaces and platforms for hidden, unheard, ignored and devalued female voices of war and forced displacement, as Custodians of Knowledge, Culture and Identity.
Exhibitions and Awards
Work exhibited at: UN Headquarters New York; Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta, USA; Hargrett Library University of Georgia, USA; The British Council Freetown, Sierra Leone; International Slavery Museum, Liverpool; University of Cambridge; Royal Commonwealth Club, London; Horniman Museum, London; The Senedd: Welsh National Assembly; Museum of Liverpool; York Army Museum; The Ferens Hull; Hull UK City of Culture 2017; Brynmor Jones Library University of Hull. Two images are held in the New Hall Art Collection, University of Cambridge.
Received several Arts Council England Grants for Arts and St Hugh’s Foundation for the Arts award.
Awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Hull (2012).
Honorary Research Fellow at The Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull (2012-2015).
MA Journalism by Research, School of Journalism, University of Lincoln (2018).
My mother, Maureen Stow, and me.
My mother and grandmother, Olive May Jordan (née Bertholini) taken in Hull during the Second World War