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Culture & Communication

MARJOLAINE RYLEY: GROWING UP IN THE NEW AGE

Cover Growing up

With texts by
Malcolm Dickson, Brigitte Ryley, Peter Ryley, Val Williams
And additional photographs by David Walkling

Growing Up in the New Age (Daylight Books, May 2013) is photographer Marjolaine Ryley‘s intriguing and poetic personal journey to remember and reconstruct her childhood growing up in squatter villages in Britain, and communes in the south of France, during the counterculture movement of the 1970s and ’80s.
Through images of artifacts and landscapes, and accompanying texts, this beautiful and evocative monograph invites the viewer to join Ryley on a magical mystery tour to contemplate, smell, and feel this vanished but ever-present history.

Growing Up in the New Age is the result of a research project that Ryley initiated in 2003 which combines photography, digital video, text, objects, and found photographs to explore a range of themes and issues that link personal experiences to broader social and political narratives. Ryley moves between the personal album and the social document to explore ideas of memory and familial relationships against the backdrop of the political and cultural happenings of the period — pacifism, anarchism, left wing politics, women’s rights, and ‘new age’ philosophy — and their relevance to today’s society.

Born in 1974, and raised by alternative thinking parents in search of a new way of living that challenged the status quo, Ryley received her early education in the creative learning atmosphere of the Kirkdale Free School in South London. She writes, « As a child my experience of education was shared with only a small number of children and I believe we experienced a unique ‘social and ideological’ experiment in education. »

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(L-R) Flower Child; Mushrooms and Sandbags © Marjolaine Ryley

Ryley’s contemporary images of places and objects that invoke the early years of her life are combined with snapshots from her family album, and black and white photographs of London squats taken by British photographer and historian Dave Walkling in the 1970s and ’80s. Collectively, these images present a legacy and living archive of an era, and also convey the dual dynamic of the subject matter — the drive for self-fulfillment and spiritual enlightenment and social utopia.

The book includes introductory essays by Val Williams, professor of the history and culture of photography at the University of Arts, London, and Malcolm Dickson, curator, writer, organizer and director of Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, Scotland that place Ryley’s work within an historical context. Additional contributions are a candid essay by Ryley’s mother, Brigitte Ryley, entitled The Meandering River: Memoir of An Alternative Life, and an excerpt from the whimsical autographical writings of Ryley’s father, Peter Ryley a/k/a Jean LeMat entitled Wandering Fool.

Growing Up in the New Age is Ryley’s attempt to consolidate and listen to the voices across generations — grandparents, parents, and children. As a Senior Lecturer in Photography and Video Art and a mother of two who is a part of the « establishment, » Ryley is in search of understanding her own identity torn between two worlds. This moving and nuanced book of self-exploration will resonate with all of us trying to reconcile our own pasts with our lives in the present day.

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(L-R)  Ripening Tomatoes; Boots of Many Sizes © Marjolaine Ryley

Marjolaine Ryley is an artist who has exhibited and published her work nationally and internationally including exhibitions at Wolverhampton Art Gallery; Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow; Impressions Gallery, Bradford; and The Palacio des Artes, Porto. Her work is held in several major collections including The Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Serralves Museum, Porto. Much of her work has explored family photography including her book Villa Mona – A Proper Kind of House (Trace Editions 2006), and Field Study 7 – Residence Astral (PARC 2008) which was published to coincide with the artist’s visiting fellowship at the Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC). She has recently contributed a chapter on her current work Growing up in the New Age: A Journey into Wonderland to the book Alternative Worlds (Berghahn 2012). Ryley’s practice incorporates photography, the moving image, text, and objects to explore memory, history, familial relationships, and archival narratives, linking personal experiences with broader social and political issues. Ryley lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK with her husband, daughter and son. She lectures part-time in Photography and Video Art at the University of Sunderland.
www.marjolaineryley.co.ukwww.growingupinthenewage.org

Val Williams is Professor of the History and Culture of Photography at the University of the Arts, London, where she is also the director of the Photography and the Archive Research Centre and an editor of the Journal of Photography and Culture. She is a writer and curator, with exhibitions including: Women’s Photography in Britain, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television; Who’s Looking at the Family?, Barbican Art Gallery; Warworks, Victoria and Albert Museum; The Dead, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television; Martin Parr Photographic Works, Barbican Art Gallery; How We Are, Tate Britain; Soho Archives, Photographers Gallery; and most recently Daniel Meadows: Early Photographs, National Media Museum. She was a founding director of the Shoreditch Biennale, initiated the Oral History of British Photography at the British Library, and was curator at the Hasselblad Center and the Printemps a Toulouse de la Photographie. Publications include: When We Were Young: Street and Club Photographs by Derek Ridgers (Photoworks 1998); Martin Parr: Photographic Works (Phaidon 2001); Anna Fox: Photographs 1983-2007 (Photoworks 2007); Daniel Meadows: Edited Photographs from the 70s & 80s (Photoworks 2011). She was awarded the Royal Photographic Society medal for curatorship in 2006.

Malcolm Dickson is a curator, writer, organizer and director of Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow, Scotland. The program embraces different genres from photographic artists locally, nationally, and internationally (www.streetlevelphotoworks.org), recently including Alina Kisina, Gayle Chong Kwan, Marjolaine Ryley, Chi Peng, Wang FuChun, Ajamu, and Arpita Shah. He has curated numerous projects including retrospectives by David Peat (2012), Harry Papadopoulos (2011), John « Hoppy » Hopkins (2009), and Jo Spence (2006), and the projects DATA: Daily Action Archive (2012), and Lost and Found (2010). Recent writing includes a chapter in the book Rewind: British Artists’ Video in the 1970s & 1980s (John Libbey Publishing, 2012), a major article on the origins of the Glasgow artist-run scene in the book This Will Not Happen Without You (Locus Plus, 2007), and « Everything is Round: The Video Environments of Stansfield/Hooykaas » in the book Revealing the Invisible (Buitenkant, 2010). He is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Dundee University.

Dave Walkling was born in Kent in 1949 and has lived in South London all his life. As a teenager he attended David Bowie’s folk club and embryonic Arts Lab, named Growth, which stimulated his interest in the arts and his increasing interest in photography. In 1973 he abandoned a career in science to study photography at London College of Printing, London. In 1975, he began squatting, a common activity in the seventies with a large stock of empty houses available. After failing his 2nd year college exams, he continued photographing his fellow squatters and working with a Half Moon Photography Workshop project on squatting. He left squatting in late 1978. From 1979-1990 he worked in applied photography for British Rail, continuing to shoot in his spare time, the most favored subjects being music festivals and 1980s anti-nuclear activity. He is currently working at a major London museum as a facilities technician, and plans to work on his archive and continue with his photography on retirement. In the past his photographs have been used in the magazines Peace News, Sanity, and Deptford Kite. He has exhibited work in the group shows Restricted Practices: aspects of documentary photography in Britain (1982) and From Suffolk to Deptford: Festival Photographs 1975-1995 (1996). Walkling’s work has recently been exhibited at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Street Level Photoworks Gallery, Glasgow as part of Marjolaine Ryley’s Growing up in the New Age project. His photographs have also been published in Field Study 15 – Growing up in the New Age (PARC 2012), in collaboration with Marjolaine Ryley and Val Williams.

Brigitte Ryley was born in Brussels, Belgium. She read psychology at Louvain University from 1968-1972. She first moved to the UK in 1973. Between 1976 and 1980 she trained as a psycho- therapist at the Gerda Boyesen Centre for Bio-dynamic Psychology and Psychotherapy. She has run a private psychotherapy practice in South London for three decades. Brigitte developed an interest in the creative process, using movement and writing within her practice, and has run many workshops in both areas. She completed an M.A. for Creative Writing for Personal Development at Sussex University in 2007. Her writing has been included in the community magazine produced by Shorelink Writers, Hastings. She also collaborates with her daughter Marjolaine Ryley, contributing creative texts to her photographic projects. These include « House of Dreams, House of Memories » in Villa Mona – A Proper Kind of House (Trace 2006) and Mother Food » in Field Study 7 – Residence Astral (PARC 2008). She is currently working on writing fiction in her mother tongue, French, exploring themes of exile, memory, loss, and transformation. 

Peter Ryley was born in Rugby, UK. He studied for a degree in Economics at London School of Economics before deciding this was definitely not the career for him. He then travelled extensively, spending time in India, Turkey, the Scottish Hebrides, and rural France. After returning to the UK he ran a landscape gardening business for many years. He travelled once again in the 1980s spending time in France and California before returning to settle in Southern England. In 1991 he wrote Wandering Fool, an autobiography of his life to that point. He developed an interest in education and after undertaking a PCGE, now teaches English at the University of Sussex. He also has a Certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Sussex and, since joining ISC Sussex in 2008, has specialized in creating original listening texts on a wide range of topics. He also runs Rainring cards (rainringcards.net) which remain his passion.

 

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(L-R) Predictions; Holy Man © Marjolaine Ryley 

Daylight is a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing art and photography books. By exploring the documentary mode along with the more conceptual concerns of fine-art, Daylight’s uniquely collectible publications work to revitalize the relationship between art, photography, and the world-at-large. For information, visit www.daylightbooks.org.

Media Contacts:
To arrange an interview with the artist, and to receive a review copy of the book and artwork, please contact
US:Andrea Smith, andreasmith202@gmail.com646-220-5950
Europe: MyrtilleBeauvert – myrtille.beauvert@gmail.com – +1 347 295 7694

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