When I exhibit hand portraits I like to present them as a frieze or ‘lifeline’ – some sort of continuum. In this format each image is an encounter, an individual story; and the line of images of tightly juxtaposed portraits becomes a visual reminder that these lives are connected, that we are connected. I want these exhibitions to remind us that we are sustained and influenced by others – strangers, family, friends, colleagues, critics, those ignored and unseen. We’re embedded in each other’s stories.
When I title the images I try to convey this sense of story. I really appreciate the aboriginal wisdom that emphasises the importance of telling your own story, rather than that of others . I give each portrait a main title that’s poetic or evocative. Then there is a four-part sub-title. Firstly, I name the person in terms of a role we can all identify with. Then I describe something that was part of our conversation or what we shared together. Next I note an emotion – this is something I was feeling at the time and my attempt to acknowledge my part in the picture, the story – and not an assumption of the other person’s emotion. Finally, I name of the location where the photo was taken – grounding our encounter in a certain place.