Published March 7, 2023 : PhotoHastings member in profile

When I first started making photographs I was obsessed with the shadow, in all its forms; my own, the fleeting beauty of botanical shadows and the unexpected, poetic shadows cast by domestic objects. I never tire of how the shadow can represent motion whilst revealing something secret.

Through the pandemic and since moving to Hastings two years ago I have become more interested in capturing subtle societal changes. The state of economic and climatic flux are now constant themes.

I am drawn to the surreal or humorous moment and take photos every day. I am continually inspired by the beauty of the Sussex landscape and coastline. I find that increasingly landscape photography serves as an antidote even nullifier to the often-grim reality of street photography at tail end of Covid.

Working part time at Farley Farmhouse and Gallery: Home of the Surrealists is both a privilege and a constant source of stimulation. As such Man Ray, Lee Miller. Eileen Agar, Dorothea Tanning will always inspire me. I tend to be influenced by recent exhibitions I have enjoyed or whatever book I have just bought. So right now its Joel Meyerowitz sultry images seen in his ‘Between the Dog and the Wolf’ exhibition and the thought provoking Home is Not a Place: which is a wonderful collaboration between photographer Johnny Pitts and poet Roger Robinson.

For the ephemeral I love the work of Japanese photographers particularly Miho Kajioka and Rinko Kawauchi there is something beautifully serene and poetic in their images. For social documentary I find Charlie Phillips, Chris Killip and Craig Easton’s work inspirational. Helen Levitt’s photographs of children always make me smile and I must admit I get a particular thrill sitting on Fay Godwin’s bench at Pett Level.

I am nearing the end of MA in Photography at Sussex University, completing a Critical Practice module. ‘Just Enough Distance’ is an exhibition I am curating which reflects on the many societal changes of the past three years. It is an attempt to tell the story of the pandemic through different motifs ( windows, signs, queues and young people) rather than the well-worn tropes of weary NHS workers, rainbows, and face masks.

Alongside the Just Enough Distance exhibition I have begun working on a personal though not unrelated photographic project about the laundrette. I have become fascinated by the nostalgia people feel for the laundrette. Once a warm, egalitarian social hub, it has been in steady decline. However, many laundrettes still hold both a particular cinematic aesthetic. They are places where you might find people from both ends of the social spectrum. Those with no access to hot water – maybe students, newly arrived immigrants alongside the middle classes who have worked out that it’s the only place where you can wash your posh goose feather duvet. I am encountering some suspicious looks when snapping away but it’s become a bit addictive.

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Answers by Justine Devenney (@justinedevenney) to questions posed by Alison Bettles (@alisonbettles).
Justine’s website  |  All images © Justine Devenney

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