For Olivia Arthur home has always been about the people; invited to join Magnum's group project, she shot family life before - and during - the birth of her second daughter
When the HOME project was proposed to her, Olivia Arthur was heavily pregnant with her second daughter. Focussing that seemed a natural choice. “But in terms of presenting it as a project to the outside world, I think what’s interesting is this period of waiting – that’s where it all becomes very personal,” she says.
Aptly titled Waiting for Lorelai, the project became about the anticipation she and her family experienced in the lead-up to the birth. “There’s this kind of emotion about how much it’s going to change the dynamics between us,” says Arthur, “and how my [older] daughter’s going to react when she finds out it’s not just her.”
Arthur was keen to take self-portraits during her pregnancy, images which for her show the sudden realisation “that you have this child inside you”. She also photographed herself during her stay in hospital, waiting for her c-section operation. “It’s this sort of final and very intense period of waiting to go for this operation,” she says. “In fact, it was just the process of the operation itself that was very emotional for me.”
When Lorelai finally arrived, Arthur asked the nurses to lower the screen so she could photograph Lorelai experiencing her first few moments out of the womb. “It’s impossible to describe this intense emotion,” says Arthur. “The anxiety before the operation and then suddenly this relief and it sort of throws you into a different world. It’s an incredible feeling.”
HOME, a collaboration between Fujifilm and Magnum Photos runs from 18-27 May 2018 at The Vinyl Factory London. The photobook can be ordered from shop.magnumphotos.com. Further information on the project and international exhibitions is available on home-magnum.com