An interest in the aesthetic of erotica evolved into a project that uses found images to explore changing perceptions of femininity
Hannah Farrell’s project, Close Your Eyes and Think of England, uses images found in vintage pornography magazines to explore notions of sexuality. “They are taken from early 1970s’ Penthouse magazines and other adult memorabilia, which I have collected over the past few years,” she explains. “What started out as an interest in the aesthetic of the photographs turned into a fascination with how the magazines comment on social movements of the time, particularly attitudes towards women. It’s interesting to explore the relationship between the evolution of photography and how this is linked with changes in the female body.”
A graduate of Blackpool and The Fylde College, Farrell deliberately picked out images with earthy tones and natural light to play up a sense of nostalgia, but says this aesthetic also suggests a connection to the natural world and animal instincts – factors she emphasises in the still lifes she sets up. As such, her images feed into her ongoing exploration of nature versus culture, and how women in particular are socialised.
“I guess it relates to the idea of unlearning,” she explains. “Everyday we are inundated with images that alter our perception of what it is to be feminine and what it is to be sexy. Because this has been inescapably ingrained into us from a young age, we have to deprogramme ourselves in order not to be affected by it. I wanted to inspect this, and used the closed eyes and vacant expressions to do so.”
Find more of Hannah’s work here.
First published in the July 2014 issue. You can buy the issue in the BJP Shop.