Grief inspired photography gains international recognition

13 October 2021

MA Photography student’s project features in global magazine

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) photography student, whose work explores her grief after her mother’s death, has been recognised by Photoworks international photography magazine.

Marianne McGurk’s final major project titled ‘This Is How She Lives On’ was selected as one of the 10 to feature in the international photography platform by a global jury of judges from Photoworks Magazine.

The 44-year-old, who is studying on the MA Photography programme, used items that belonged to her mother, including her mother’s lipsticks, to create colourful and thought-provoking still life images.

Marianne, from Liverpool, said: “The judges picked my work for its innovative idea and strong narrative, and I’m delighted because I wanted to play with the notion that photography can accurately encapsulate memories.

“My mum, Karan, was 57 when she died in September 2012. I was pregnant when my mother died. On the one hand I was dealing with this new-born baby, which was wonderful, but I had lost my mother. I was dealing with these conflicting emotions. Everything just came to a stop.

"My project captures the essence of the person my mum was, and still is, even after her death"

Marianne McGurk

“My project captures the essence of the person my mum was, and still is, even after her death. At its core, my project is anchored in loss and trauma, but it also incorporates broader concepts of absence-presence, motherhood, beauty, fragility and metamorphosis.”

The striking images, which also feature a close up of her mum’s ashes, are described as “playful and poignant, with vivid colours and moments of silence reflecting a mother who has left an indelible mark on her child.”

She added: “What I’ve created with This Is How She Lives On is a memorial to my mother and is a continuation of our relationship. My photographs are a visual memory and are a tangible form to hold on to.”

The international platform for photography received nearly 350 applications from graduates worldwide.

As part of the submission, her work was also chosen as the winner of the Spectrum Photo Printing Award.

She added: “It has been a real process to work through my grief and the trauma of her passing, but I know my mum would be so proud of what I’ve achieved.”

To view Marianne’s images, visit the Photoworks website.

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Marianne McGurk and her work01 / 05

Marianne McGurk
Marianne McGurk