Born in Hull, England in 1966. Grew up on the Greatfield council estate. Now renting 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 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. They inspire me to find ways to create a shared space for the unheard, ignored and devalued female voices of war, as custodians of knowledge, culture and identities. Their lost herstories fuels my work to help amplify women’s testimonies of rebuilding after the aftermath. I choose to work with, and alongside, women survivors of war because I admire their strength, resilience and hope in the face of domination and adversity. I see them as role models.
Briefly, my journalism career began in 1989 as a freelance features writer for national newspapers, magazines and books. Commissions and self-initiated assignments led to a view from the ground, meeting people of 60-plus countries. Out on the road I taught myself photography to document visually, later adding audio. Sometimes I use abstract photography to channel my anger at what I see, hear and feel.
In 2007 I visited Freetown in Sierra Leone and met women attempting to rebuild 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 women who wanted to learn photography for self-representation, self-expression and to earn incomes.
In 2012 I began working photographically alongside resettled women refugees in Hull and East Yorkshire, to co-construct visual narratives, exhibitions and installations that use both photography and art to share insights into the refugee woman’s journey.
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.
In 2012 awarded an Honorary Degree by the University of Hull.
In 2012 Honorary Research Fellow at The Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull.
In 2018 completed MA Journalism by Research, School of Journalism, University of Lincoln.
Currently studying a PhD in Media Studies at the University of Hull through NECAH (North of England Arts and Humanities Consortium) looking at the role of photography in visual representations/misrepresentation of resettled refugee women.
My mother, Maureen Stow, and me.
My mother and grandmother, Olive May Jordan (née Bertholini) taken in Hull during the Second World War