Jackie Nickerson

03.09.2013 in19:24 in Portraits -->


Jackie Nickerson born in Boston, Jackie Nickerson has worked in both fashion and fine art photography in London and New York, In 2002, Jonathan Cape published ‘FARM’, a book of portraits of farm workers taken all over southern Africa. SteidlMack published her long term project on religious communities in Ireland, ‘Faith’ in No 2007, and it received its Irish premiere at the Paul Kane Gallery. The Gallery of Photography has toured the FAITH exhibition to the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Pairs, where it is currently on show as part of Mois de la Photo. Jackie has been shortlisted for the John Kobal prize and nominated for the prestigious Becks Futures Award. This year, she was nominated by the Gallery of Photography for the €20,000 AIB Art Prize, which she won. The award-winning work, DOMICILE, will be premiered in the Gallery of Photography in December 2009. DOMICILE will also be published in book form by SteidlMACK. Her work is represented in many important collections such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Santa Monica Museum. She is represented by the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York. The piece in the current exhibition is Sister Irene, from the series FAITH. The piece in the Grand Draw is Untitled, (Aran Islands).

“Making this series of photographs wasn’t planned beforehand but is the direct result of my own personal experience. In 1996 went to Zimbabwe to stay with a friend whose family had a farm near Harare. I loved the country but felt constrained by the nature of the social life there, which meant that I wasn’t meeting any indigenous Zimbabweans socially and I began to feel claustrophobic. It was obviously a hang over from their colonial tradition. I started to walk around the farm where I was staying to meet people. Then I bought a small flatbed truck and started to drive all over Zimbabwe, and later on to South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique.

After a few months, I started to take pictures and decided to concentrate on rural areas and people working in their agricultural environment.

I realized that I needed to create a visual language that put across the farmers and farm workers I was meeting as individuals and as modern people. Because that’s who they are. But the images of Africa that I grew up with in the media were wholly negative. And that didn’t fit my own experience of whom I was meeting. I wanted the viewer to be challenged to look at African culture in a different way and also underline the aesthetic. And a way of doing this was to focus on what they had created for themselves to wear which was not only very practical but also beautiful and unique. They are completely original. They would recycle everything that is recyclable from the farm and nothing was wasted. This includes packing material, food containers, sacking, and grain bags – anything that serves the purpose of protecting them on the job. Most of the protective clothing in the pictures is hand made by the people who are wearing them. This makes everything they wear original and work specific and they do have an originality and beauty.

Africa is so often stereotyped in such a negative way and that just wasn’t my experience at all. One woman in Mozambique said, “Please don’t take our picture because you’re just going to show the world that we’re poor and we don’t feel like that”. The poverty they live in seems relentless, as does the work they do everyday. But they have a tremendous resilience. Most people I photographed had a very strong sense of who they are and this gives them a personal presence and confidence.

When you’re walking around the farms it isn’t immediately apparent that there’s anything special about how people look and what they’re wearing because you’re walking on the roads and most people you meet are just dressed like you or I would dress, like in jeans or a skirt and t-shirt, but once you go into the fields and stop and talk and take some time then you begin to see something.”