I was keen to champion Rosy Martin’s work as I feel she suffers from a peculiarly feminine art historical disease. Her contribution to contemporary and British photography over the past 40 years has been curiously overlooked, something I and I know many others, would like to change.
One factor for Rosy Martin being overlooked maybe more gender specific. We are not good as a nation at acknowledging our female pioneers. Perhaps at a moment when more women than ever are taking up and studying photography and women curators and arts professionals outnumber their male peers, it may be time to address this. The contemporary relevance of her work with Jo Spence is clear and I find myself almost constantly referring students and aspiring photographers to look at their work.
The two series In Situ (2006 – 1938/9) and Acts of Reparation (2008/9) included in this submission are a selection from an ongoing and extremely tender series of work that explores Martin’s relationship with her parents mediated through photography. Photography and bereavement have an almost inextricable link which extends far beyond Roland Barthes musings about his mother. So many people in so many ways use photography to help them deal with illness and death. It has enormous cathartic, bordering on healing, properties. A case could be made that photography’s history almost grew alongside its connection to death.