Jenny Matthews - Sewing Conflict:
Photography, War and Embroidery
10th February - 12th May 2024
Gallery Opening Hours - Tuesday to Sunday 12 till 5pm
Sewing Conflict: Photography, War and Embroidery is a new solo exhibition by documentary photographer and filmmaker Jenny Matthews, whose work deals with issues of dispossession and human rights, with a particular emphasis on the lives of women and girls. She has worked all over the world for NGOs and on editorial assignments, covering momentous historical events including the guerrilla war and Independence of Eritrea, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the genocide in Rwanda.
Since 2020 Jenny Matthews has been making a series of photo quilts with edits of photos from her archive, with twenty-three of these hangings included in the exhibition here at Street Level Photoworks. Each photograph has been printed onto cotton linen, stitched together, and embellished with embroidery on material most often sourced from the countries in which the original images were made. Alongside these works the exhibition also features the series Facial De-recognition (2021), which is composed of thirty-five portraits of Afghan women with embroidery obliterating their features. This series was initiated to commemorate the Taliban retaking control of Afghanistan in August 2021 and to highlight the subsequent negative effect on the lives of Afghan women and girls, with a loss of their freedom, rights, and identity. The exhibition also contains work from the series Torn Apart on the current crisis in Sudan and a new sequence of images from Gaza. This exhibition at Street Level Photoworks brings together Matthews’ various works in these formats for the first time.
An exhibition minigraph with an essay by Max Houghton is available, alongside a limited run small publication produced for the exhibition.
Jenny Matthews was a member of Camerawork and a founder member of Format Photographers, an agency of women photographers, which started in 1983. She later worked with Network Photographers and is currently represented by Panos Photographers. The zine Changing World of Woman’s Work 1978 – 1988 was one of her earlier bodies of work and was recently published by Café Royal Books. Her book Women and War, chronicling twenty years of women affected by conflict worldwide was published in 2003 and exhibited worldwide. Three of her works were included in FORMAT International Photography Festival in 2021; images from Greenham Common were included in Re/Sisters: A Lens on Gender and Ecology at the Barbican Gallery, London; William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow (a touring exhibition of Radical Landscape from Tate Liverpool); and the Tate Britain exhibition Women in Revolt. The exhibition ‘Threads of War’ was exhibited at Farleys House & Gallery in October 2023. A newly commissioned quilt features as part of the exhibition ‘One Year: Photographs from the Miners Strike 1984-85’ at the Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol.
Images: © Jenny Matthews