Graduate art photographer Paige Megan Hawley works on conceptual photography, predominantly relating to issues around contemporary feminism, while taking into consideration the history of feminism, using different styles of photography including digital, 35mm film and in her most recent project, using medium format. Here we’re proud to showcase some of Paige’s work, find out more from her:

My projects each tell a story of an event which happened to me; I want to inspire women to go forward from rape and sexual violence. Their voices are important and need to be heard! I hope people can view and use my photographs to expose concepts today’s society and the world we live in.

I stood up and made my voice be heard, no one should be silenced.

I attended court this year to get justice from when I was raped. Unfortunately I didn’t get the justice I wanted, it was the most difficult experience being made to feel like I’m the criminal when I am the victim. I stood up and made my voice be heard, no one should be silenced, I refused to be and still do. Others shouldn’t be silenced either, my photographs are to inspire others to go forward and the more exposure for this I think will help for survivors to move forward in their lives, although didn’t get justice but they can say: “I tried, I’m a survivor and activist”, and that for me is important.

My project; ‘The Aftermath’ is a series which I documented myself as a victim. I captured the true essence of me being guarded and vulnerable. I come across the idea after the tragic event happened, then of course taking the work of Lorna Simpson into consideration. I felt at this moment in time I could really connect with her work, her style reflects upon memory and body with women standing silent against violence. Her photography gives an insight of vulnerability and submission.

Photographing and developing film was my way of beginning to heal.

I planned to photograph myself in this way, revealing my story to everyone. My aim was to put a message across to viewers who have been through the same thing, that they are not alone and silence is not the answer. The Aftermath was my way of coping with the after effects of an horrific event, each individual photograph reflects in detail what happened the night I was raped.

Photographing and developing film was my way of beginning to heal, which lead on to my projects “Process” and “STOP”, developing the negatives by stopping the process, the development stages define my healing process of the after effects of rape. It was the feminist approach that Hannah Wilke’s work influenced mine. After visiting The Burden Of Proof Exhibition at The Photographers Gallery, this exhibition interprets violence and reinforcing the night in a metaphoric way. The empty skate park which I photographed being ambiguous and atmospheric, the viewer is looking in on a crime scene, also reinforcing the dangers of the night.

My series ‘Take A Picture, It Lasts Longer’ reveals concept in relation to the objectification of women. This has come from my own personal background, influenced by the Male Gaze in today’s society.It was when I saw the work of Sarah Lucas at the Tate that inspired me to create a contemporary piece using furniture as a substitute for the human body. Furniture such as mattresses, sofas and chairs act as plinths for ‘bodies’ placed in a surreal environment. Lucas’s figures are headless, the only face is the artist herself , omnipresent through a sequence of self portraits. The concept of this is me confronting the camera, based around the theme of the theory of ‘The Male Gaze’, inspired by the work of Sarah Lucas. My work is political in rights for women.

The work of Francesca Woodman has always been a massive inspiration to me, using medium format to capture these images. Her perfectly window framed images gave me the potential to re create something similar but in this present-time. The idea of the window and the gaze I had In my head from the very beginning, I wanted the viewer to be shocked and feel as if they are the male gazing in through the window at the woman, but at something more shocking than expected.’

If I can document and expose my story, any one can do it!

All of my work has been published into books through blurb. Also holding many exhibitions to reveal to other women that they are not alone – and if I can document and expose my story, any one can do it! For more information take a look at my website.

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The Aftermath: A photography series by Paige Hawley
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