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The Rugby Collection

Linda Ingham

Linda Ingham, Easter Self Portrait with Narcissi, 2011, Oil, jet and silverpoint on handmade paper, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Rugby Borough Council, Presented by the artist with assistance from the artist Robert Priseman (2013) © Linda Ingham 


linda ingham

Ingham (b.1964) has been a recipient for many awards from Arts Council England and her work has been collected in art museums across the UK and United States. Working with predominantly portraiture, especially self portraiture, Ingham comments ‘’perhaps, as an only child, who often had to entertain herself, the self-portrait has been most consistently prevalent throughout my practice.”

This work depicts a self-portrait of the artist, which was started at Easter time; a single work in series of self-portraits always started at Easter.

The meaning behind the work is discussed more fully by the artist:

“The Easer Self Portrait series arose inadvertently out of being diagnosed infertile back in 2004.

As is often the case for most of us who endure a significant event which changes their lives, we re-evaluate, take stock, and often emerge slightly changed from the experience. Soon after the diagnosis, I began to develop autobiographical pieces through which I attempted to manage my grief, and realize that 10 years later I am still responding to the important events in life which are relevant to me, and in many ways to all the rest of my fellow human beings.

Easter, with folk-lore and religious connotations attached, is traditionally a time of awakening from the darkness, a moving through to the light.

There have been two Easter Self Portraits in this style and this is the first showing me with a head band woven from the pages of The Wide Wide World, an 1880s book by American author Susan Warner, Aka Elizabeth Wetherall, often acclaimed as America’s first best-seller. The book is a rites of passage story of a young girl as she becomes a young woman, and this element combined with the headband is a modification on the Easter bonnets traditionally worn by young girls and women – this time, a headband worn by a woman passing firmly into her middle years. Its partner piece, Easter Self Portrait with Charity Button shows me wearing a plastic daffodil, the symbol of Marie Curie Cancer Charity, like a flower in my hair, and thinking about my mother and the millions like her who die of cancer every year.

With hindsight, I recognise an element of liminality in these pieces and several previous and subsequent works, which seems to be significant in my practice. By liminality, I mean a quality of ambiguity or disorientation that is accepted as occurring in the middle-stage of rituals, but in the case of my practice, is instead a significant life-change. The subject (usually me) no longer holds the pre-change status but has not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the change is complete (if that ever happens). In the case of ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold" between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes, for example. I am never sure if this is obvious in the work, but it is most often the source which motivates me.

My practice attempts to acknowledge this, through observation of the passage of time, utilization of memory, and use of process and materials. Whilst I often include an image of myself in the work, I mostly intend that the subject within the work transcends the ‘me-ness’ and communicates something recognizable from the point of the viewer as an event or situation, or something less tangible, rather than a self-portrait of me. As an introvert, I would much rather use an imaginary figure, or someone else in the works, but attempts so far have been unsuccessful”.

Linda Ingham, March 2014