Over the past ten years Tierney Gearon has produced a body of work centred on her family life, starting with the breakthrough exhibition ‘I Am A Camera’ in 2001. Although the series of work was critically lauded, two naked photographs of her (then) young children attracted some controversial debate regarding censorship. In response to the unwelcome attention Tierney wrote a touching piece for the Guardian newspaper saying, ‘I don’t see sex in any of those prints, and if someone else reads that into them, then surely that is their issue, not mine.’
In many ways perception does play a role in Tierney’s work. Her images are often ambiguous and avoid being overly sentimentalised. It is for the viewer to decide what to take away from them. To me her photographs speak of afternoon naps, slow summer days, mischievous youth and the incomparable depth of familial love. They are warm and open, much like the photographer herself.
Whilst Tierney never stages her shots, her images go well beyond the traditional point-and-shoot study of the everyday: in a single moment she captures something much more fantastical. As if snapshots from a daydream, each frame is filled with sunlight and colours are exaggerated. The effect is even more surreal in her later work with double exposure, whereby she layers the one roll of film with multiple images.
Most importantly, through her personal work Tierney has been able to explore her own life journey, in particular her role as a mother, which figuratively has been her most important muse. It’s unsurprising, then, that she’s famous for having an open home. I have friends and colleagues who‘ve often gushed about her generous hospitality and her capacity to make everyone feel like they’re part of the family. Tierney shares with us some unpublished pictures of her life at home, and talks about family and her ongoing process of self-discovery.
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