Eye am She
Published on 21.05.18
Wonderful installation by graduate Lorna Brown commissioned by the National Trust for Berrington Hall. Eye am She – Lorna Brown 2018 Eye am She is a mixed-media art installation, inspired by the life of Anne Bangham and the 18th century seedlings of modern celebrity culture. A contemplative room of reflection, Eye am She pays homage
Wonderful installation by graduate Lorna Brown commissioned by the National Trust for Berrington Hall.
Eye am She – Lorna Brown 2018
Eye am She is a mixed-media art installation, inspired by the life of Anne Bangham and the 18th century seedlings of modern celebrity culture. A contemplative room of reflection, Eye am She pays homage to the female space and experience. Centered around the life of this Georgian woman, the wife of Thomas Harley, it explores both a factual and hypothetical narrative of the life of this 18th century socialite, and her experience of motherhood and womanhood.
The artwork comprises a tribute to the ‘Secret Language of Flowers’, often thought of as a Victorian interest but actually introduced to Britain in 1717 by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu who discussed the Turkish version in letters sent back to England. It was these letters that led to a fascination with flower symbology. Flowers Symbolic of Motherhood and family blossom amongst large versions of the Georgian Lover’s Eye/Eye Miniature, which observes both the subject and the viewer in sympathetic allusion to the woman as watched. Anne’s life as a “watched woman” is re-enacted beneath these eyes. The modern culture of celebrity evolved extensively in the latter half of the 18th century, and as a socialite and one time mayoress of London, Anne was no doubt well acquainted with the experience of life under the watchful eye of the public.
The eyes are an interpretation of the Georgian Love Eye or Eye Miniature. A clandestine token of love exchanged by British and European lovers in the 18th and 19th century. Their origins date back to 1784 when George IV reportedly wore the eye of his lover Maria Fitzherbert under his lapel. In suspending an audience of eyes from the ceiling, the artist has tried to capture the experience of being a person in the public eye. A feeling of Anne reflecting on her life not just through her own eyes but through the eyes of society. I was also inspired by theories on the woman as watched, particularly that of John Berger…
“A woman must continually watch herself. She is almost continually accompanied by her own image of herself. Whilst she is walking across a room or whilst she is weeping at the death of her father, she can scarcely avoid envisaging herself walking or weeping. From earliest childhood she has been taught and persuaded to survey herself continually. And so she comes to consider the surveyor and the surveyed within her as the two constituent yet always distinct elements of her identity as a woman.”