In the Shadow of Things © Leonie Purchas, 2008

Leonie Purchas: In the Shadow of Things

Leonie Purchas (UK): In the Shadow of Things
Inge Morath Award Finalist, 2008

Gallery offline – updating soon

Since graduating from LCC, I have been photographing the inner workings of families from different parts of the world. Last year, I finally turned my camera on my own family.

Exploring a fascination with family dynamics, and hierarchical relationships, my work looks at how the individual emerges from the structure of the family, through the complex interplay of nature and nurture. Yet as the project developed, I began to feel that despite the intimate access I was gaining into people’s lives, I was guilty of denying the importance of my own presence in the creation of the photographs. Last year I decided to turn my camera on my own family and myself. The work to date represents the first chapter of this project.

In the Shadow of Things explores the life of my mother, Bron, whose first marriage began to fall apart when I was ten. When the divorce finally came through fourteen years ago, Bron and her new partner David moved to a new life. They live in an isolated house at the end of a long dirt track, surrounded by fields and forests with their son Jake.

Twelve years later, most of the boxes from the move are yet to be unpacked. They lurk in unused rooms, waiting to be dealt with. My mother has struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for many years. The intricate rules and rituals of this illness complicate everyday domestic life so much that piles of objects: clothes, boxes and bags that forms more layers of things and create an overwhelming burden.

For several months I have been trying to help my mother regain control of her life and home. Through photography I am trying to capture and express the feeling of being confronted by the mirror of myself, an experience both troubling and rewarding at the same time. The camera has been both a key and a shield, granting access to a world I thought I already knew but which continues to reveal itself.

Photography Awards and Commendations
Selected in the Magenta Foundation’s Emerging Photographers

Jan 2007
Winner of the Arts Foundation Fellowship for photography

April 2006
Selected for the Joop Swart World Press Masterclass 2006

Dec 2005
Awarded 15 month scholarship from Fabrica, Italy, to collaborate on the ‘Les Yeux Ouvert’ exhibition at The Pompidou Centre, Paris.

Dec 2004
Winner of the Jerwood Photography Award

March 2004
Selected as one of the Photo District News 30 emerging photographers

Sept 2003
Winner of the Tom Webster Award

July 2003
Winner of the Ian Parry Memorial Scholarship

June 2003
Winner of the Metro Bursary Award

Previous Exhibitions
‘In the Shadow of Things’ April- June 2008, the International Festival of Photography Rome, Palazzo delle esposizione. ‘Les Yeux Ouvert’ in Centre Pompidou Paris and Triennale gallery in Milan- traveled to Palermo, Shanghai and Lisborn.. ‘The Tall Family’ in Magenta’s Emerging Photographers book & exhibition, in Toronto at Lennox Contemporary and Kathleen Cullen Fine Art in New York. ‘London Stories’ in London Shoreditch Town Hall. ‘The Moretti family’ in International festival of photography in Rome. The Open eye Gallery in Liverpool, The Jerwood Space in London, The Tom Blau Gallery in London, The Cooper Gallery Dundee, The Bury Gallery in Bury St Edmunds.

Previous Publication includes
Portfolio Magazine, Daylight Magazine, Newsweek,, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Fader, Time, The Saturday Telegraph, The Saturday Independent.

2002- July 2003
Diploma in Photojournalism at LCP (Distinction)
Worked as full time assistant to British Photojournalist Tom Stoddart.