Being Inbetween is a portrait series (of over 80 works) with interviews of girls between 10-12. This work has been created over the last 5 years and explores the complex transition between girlhood and young adulthood. The work arises from my own memories of being this age and the desire to give voice and faces to the young women who inevitably must pass through these mysterious hinterlands on their journey towards adulthood. This is my starting point to the series – an exploration, a way of giving a voice to the girl I was and the girls who are; a way to explore the hidden complexity, duality and contradictions that mark this phase of life. It is complicated and fascinating time; whist you are being shaped in your soon be adult form, your opinions and beliefs, hopes and fears are emerging. There is a beauty to this age, one that is sometimes concealed in attitude, embarrassment and self-consciousness. The girls are invited to choose how to represent themselves, and invited to talk about the world they live in.
I seek for my subjects in Being Inbetween to be directly connected to the process, I do not sneak up on them, rather I engage and ask questions, inviting them to be equals and the owners of all the wisdom and experience. I am connected very much to my younger self and therefore in some ways – I see myself within the girls. I never underestimate them, and always try to create space for them to be comfortable and to be themselves.
Portraiture is often a relationship of unequal’s or a play in the dynamics of power. Rather than being the all-powerful artist, I seek to be able to bring the girls stories and selves to life using the skills I have at hand. The gaze of the girls is directly at us. Often the subject in the portrait is looked upon, particularly female subjects/models - looked at by us the audience, but not in this case, this was an informed choice I made from the very beginning. I wanted to turn this relationship on its head.
Being Inbetween will be published as a book by Bluecoat Press in 2019.
Front image: Alice. Age 10
Carolyn Mendelsohn is known as a portrait photographer and as an artist who uses photography and film and sound to realize creative ideas rooted within the lives of individuals, their story and location. Her work is crafted through a rigorous process of social research and collection of material. It follows a visual narrative and usually has emotional content and she is known for creating compelling, powerful portraits. Alongside this she works on personal portrait commissions and commercial briefs, lifestyle and fashion. Carolyn has received many awards including winning British Journal of Photography, Portrait of Britain, RPS IPE 159 gold medal, Professional Photographer of the Year 2013 – lifestyle Category. In 2018 she was shortlisted for the International Women Photographers Award. The work was selected and exhibited for AOP 50 by Zelda Cheatle.