A new book by British artist Helen Couchman
In 2012 Couchman began her latest project, exploring portraiture by collaborating with women across the Sultanate of Oman. Before beginning her expeditions around Oman Couchman researched for images of Omani women in archives and museums around London and Oxford and found no material. The handful of images of women she found being anthropological images emphasising the women’s skills or the occasional eroticised Persian beauty, neither addressing the individual, stylish and confident women she had markedly noticed in the country.
“She camped in the mountains, the desert and on the beaches of this beautiful country, in order to gain access to the communities living between the northern tip of Musandam and the southern border with Yemen; between the edge of The Empty Quarter bordering with Saudi Arabia to the west; and along the length of the east coast and onto Masirah Island. On her travels she met women walking or working and asked to take their portraits.” – Dr. Sussan Babaie– Foreword for ‘Omani Women – About a journey’
The series depicts the diversity of Omani women, their self-presentation, fashion, modesty and beauty in the country. These portraits show a very diverse group of women from Bedu women to city girls in Muscat and their individual styles.
“Couchman’s project bridges a gap as far as local memory allows. This collapsing of time through an artist’s journey runs as a backdrop to her experience of Oman. The rare privilege afforded a woman artist to focus her camera lens on women of Oman makes this an unusual venture.” – Dr. Sussan Babaie– Foreword for ‘Omani Women – About a journey’
12 November 2015
6pm – 8pm
The Photographers’ Gallery
16-18 Ramillies Street
London W1F 7LW
Great to present to some of the female engineers at WorleyParsons about the Omani Women project. In Muscat the company employs 50% women engineers.
The first completed proof copy of Omani Women نساء عمانيات has arrived in London for approval. Here is a first look at the arabic cover.
Photos taken at the lecture given at The Anglo-Omani Society on the 23rd April in London.
Institute of International Visual Arts
With Dr. Caroline Bressey , Dr. Gemma Romain and artist Helen Couchman.
Thu 16 October, 6.30-8pm
Stuart Hall Library
London EC2A 3BA
Dr. Caroline Bressey and Dr. Gemma Romain will present on their research and curation with Tate Britain of the current display ‘BP Spotlight: Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919–39’.
Artist Helen Couchman will be talking about her first two books, ‘WORKERS (Gong Ren)’ and ‘Mrs. West’s Hats’. She will present the books and describe how her surroundings prompted each project. WORKERS her first book is a portrait of Chinese migrant workers building the Olympic Stadiums in Beijing in 2007/08. Her second book “Mrs. West’s Hats is a memorial piece about her late grandmother. The projects explore themes of repetition, participation, portraiture, self-portraiture and the role of photography as a record and a celebration.
Further information can be found at www.website-test-lab.com/sites/ssp
Helen Couchman moved to London to study first a BA and then an MA in Fine Art. More recently she was invited to do a period of PhD research into her own practice ending in 2012.Couchman lived in China for nearly seven years and during her time there exhibited in Hong Kong and numerous times in Beijing as well as back in the UK and in New York. Previously she had often produced new bodies of work while working abroad, Cyprus (2003), Armenia (2004), Vermont (2005) and China (2006). She worked in New York City on new work relating to that city and Beijing (2012/2013).
Couchman will be artist in residence at The Asia Society and is planning an exhibition at CFCCA, Manchester both in 2015. She is currently based out of the UK and working in Oman on her third book.
Dr. Caroline Bressey and Dr. Gemma Romain will present on their research and curation with Tate Britain of the current display ‘BP Spotlight: Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919-39′. The display brings together artworks which demonstrate the trans-national exchange between artists from diverse ethnic backgrounds during the inter-war years. The artworks were selected from the Tate Collection and public and private collections. Between the wars, a cosmopolitan network of artists exchanged ideas in London’s art colleges, studios and clubs. They were instrumental in shaping the cultural and political identity of the city.
Caroline and Gemma are researchers at the Equiano Centre at University College London. The Centre was founded to support research into the Black Presence in Britain. Spaces of Black Modernism builds on research from the Drawing Over the Colour Line project.
Dr. Caroline Bressey is a lecturer in the Department of Geography, UCL. Her research focuses upon recovering the historical geographies of the black community in Victorian Britain, especially London. Parallel to this are her interests in ideas of race, racism, early anti-racist theory and identity in Victorian society. A large part of her research uses photography and this interest led her to collaborate with the National Portrait Gallery, London, on the representation of black and Asian people in their collections. She has worked as a curator with the National Portrait Gallery and Museum in Docklands.
Dr. Gemma Romain is a historian who researches Caribbean and Black diasporic history. Research Associate for the AHRC funded project ‘Drawing over the Colour Line’.
Vera Douie Fellow at the Women’s Library, documenting interwar Black histories within the collections. Leverhulme Early Career fellowship at Newcastle University, project entitled ‘Negotiating Slavery and Freedom: petitioning and protest in the nineteenth century British Caribbean’. She has worked for various museums and archives including The National Archives UK and the National Maritime Museum. She has taught at Birkbeck College, University of London on the subject of Black hidden histories in museum and archival collections.
Update 08/10/14: Event sold out at the end of the day.
Book signing on the 16th October. Details to follow.