Photography Graduate Feature: Lauren Jackson

In This Dress is a project by graduating photographer Lauren Jackson. The project shows a bride’s journey towards the perfect wedding dress. It is highly personal – Lauren is getting married this summer. The pictures tell a story, a story of a daughter getting her wedding dress sewn by her mother, as tradition has it in Lauren’s family. The woman is Lauren and the dress is her real wedding dress, to be worn at her wedding.

The photographs are accompanied by text, bringing the viewer through Lauren’s story together with her mother. They feel very personal. The pictures are beautiful, with attention to detail and revealing a precious relationship between a mother and her daughter. Lauren has managed to capture details that make a beautiful wedding dress and at the same time the small things in life needed for a close relationship.

© Lauren Jackson

The texts are written by her mother at the time of sewing and the whole project was initially intended for a family archive. There are two photographs at the end, one with her mother in her dress and another with her grandmother in her wedding dress. Lauren uses theories by Annette Kuhn in her book Family Secrets (2002) dealing mainly with keeping up appearances, and a mother’s sinister love for her child in her project.

In This Dress is a wordplay resembling in distress and this might be a clue to what is to come. A wedding can be rather stressful event after all, not to mention the preparations. At first sight the viewer gets a warm feeling and thinks how beautiful this moment must have been. Then again I remember my own wedding a few years ago and how the perfect day somehow had its own life. As a couple you try to organise things the way you want them but whether you want it or not other forces influence what will happen on that day. Words like tradition, history, family, obligations, feelings cross my mind.

© Lauren Jackson

In my wedding, for example, my partner and I decided not to have a traditional first dance as none of us likes that kind of traditional dancing anyways. As a surprise on the day however my mother had brought a very meaningful (and beautiful) song and played it for us as our first dance, in front of all guests. We couldn’t say no and hoped not to step in any dog poo on the park lawn we were dancing on barefoot.

This brings us back to relationships and especially that between a mother and daughter. Not all people who see Lauren’s photographs will ask themselves this, but I couldn’t help wondering if this is Lauren’s dream dress or a projection of her mother’s wishes? How much saying did her mother have in choosing her wedding dress? And how does this affect the relationship she has with her mother?

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In This Dress can be seen at Free Range (space T4, Truman Brewery, Brick Lane) 14-17 June (10-18 every day). The private view for Free Range is on Thursday, 13 June 18-21.

Written by intern, Mari Boman