Stories of Origin
Migration has been a constant narrative thread in the McLafferty family’s itinerant history. From Ireland to Scotland, and now, here in Australia, the complexities of female identity and the affects of cultural diaspora form as the subjectivity of this artistic research project, entitled, Stories of Origin.
A series of documentary photographs of the Calton area of Glasgow , a destination for Irish migrants to Scotland at the turn of the 20th century, and analogue, black and white portraits and digital, colour portraits of my daughter, taken over a twelve year period [2001- 2013] fuse to challenge religious and social identity politics, common to women of the Irish diaspora. Embedded with mythology and semiology the hybrid portraits, laced with a Marian metaphor, recontextualise the relationship between form and space. And at the same time, deconstruct the central myth that locates the feminine as domestic and private, and the masculine as heroic and public.
Through a process of overlay, the space of representation navigates history, time and place to reimagine public space as a place of negotiation. As a body of work, the images provide an aesthetic framework that questions not only identity and belonging, but asks: how can we as a creative community redefine spaces of difference, to read, not as other, but as a celebration of Irish culture and diversity as a whole?
The images are framed to offer a visual rethinking of who ‘we’ are in relation to the spaces we occupy. In doing so, the stories of the past become the stories of the present. As homage to the generations of Irish women whose identities were formed in this place, the portraits re-inscribe the meaning of connection by rupturing traditional gender stereotypes. As cultural theorist, Nikos Papastergiadis says: ‘The power of art, in part, is fuelled by its ability to rip meaning from one context and insert it into another.’ And, it is within the context of image production that the origins of this story are shaped and tested.