'Tis the season to spend time with family, cooking and eating together, taking family portraits and remembering you forgot to send out seasonally appropriate cards.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is getting into the spirit with a new photography exhibit called All in the Family. The works are drawn from the gallery's permanent collection and feature images by artists Sheila Spence, Diana Thorneycroft, Brent Hume, Donigan Cumming,
Barbara Cole, John Massey and many others.
SCENE asked Winnipeg's own Diana Thorneycroft to tell us the inspiration behind her contribution to the exhibit, and how her family felt about it.
It was part of a series of photographs I made in the early 1990s when I was exploring issues pertaining to gender, sexuality and the body. My own body was very androgynous back then, which enabled me to float in between maleness and femaleness in my work.
Artist Diana Thorneycroft (Paul Marten)
In this particular image I am wearing a partial "photo-mask" of my mother's face (the upper part is mom's, the lower mine). As a mother and homemaker, I am wearing fake breasts to signify her sexuality.
Above and around the body I have placed dolls and cooking utensils. The dolls are wearing tiny photo-masks of me and my siblings, and the leopard skin fabric I'm on is the inside of a double sleeping bag my parents used to use when we went camping as a family.
For this image I had the camera suspended above my head. For all the photographs I take, I work in total darkness, lock the shutter open, and then illuminate the set using a hand-held flashlight. You can see on the upper left corner of the photograph the flare from the flashlight.
My family was perfect for my interest in sexuality and expectations of gender roles; stay at home mom, work dad, one brother, one sister. They willingly posed for the photographs I took to make the masks, but admittedly, even I wasn't sure what I was going to do once the masks were made.
My dear family! They have supported me through thick and thin. When news of my "S&M" exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo made the front page of the Ottawa Citizen
, that was a tough one for my parents, especially my mom, who had a hard time understanding the work, but they never asked me to stop, or turned their backs on me.
When I finally had the show at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in Ottawa, I gave a talk, and dedicated it to my parents who were there. Afterwards my mom was great. She said she never asked me what the work was about because she was afraid to hear my answers, but after hearing what I had to say, it all made sense.All in the Family runs at the Winnipeg Art Gallery from December 1-March 10, 2013