Preston enjoys a touch of fake nails and cake for Helen McGhie's Identity Crisis at the Harris

By Ben Miller | 21 June 2012
A photo of a large decadent cake with ice cream and chocolate
American Pancakes (from the series Desserts)© Helen McGhie
Exhibition: Identity Crisis, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, until July 7 2012

Hair, false nails, spooky houses and psychoanalysis based on board games are the fare of Bolton artist Helen McGhie, bringing a three-pronged attack to the Stairway gallery at the Harris.

Ashley House, her earliest series here, is named after her grandparents’ family home, suggesting awkward visual barriers and emotional tension within photos of an extraordinary place.

Desserts, begun in 2011, branches out to society for an exploration of the relationship between women and food, featuring “luscious portraits” and “beauty signifiers”, lumped together in a way which casts all that desire aside to reveal the thorny issue of society’s expectations when it comes to physical appearance.

Finally, in her most recent project, Ego Entertainment delves through children’s games and the eight stages of psychosocial development (as cerebrally theorised by Erik Erikson) to illustrate stages of personal identity through games of luck, acting and stories.

“I feel intrigued by photography’s ability to shape and emphasise reality,” adds McGhie, who counts “disturbed body image” and “the viewer’s understanding of codes within familiar imagery” as her targets.

“I am particularly interested in how the image of ‘woman’ is represented within the media.”

  • Open 10am-5pm (11am-5pm Monday, closed Sunday). Admission free.

More pictures:

A photo of two photos in split view. One is a wallpaper of boats, the other an empty swimmng pool
Wallpaper and Swimming Pool (2008). From the series Ashley House© Helen McGhie
A photo of two photos split. The first is of a house, the other is of a monopoly board game
House & Monopoly© Helen McGhie
A photo of a large circular yellow cake on a plate with two strawberries next to it
Cake (from the series Desserts)© Helen McGhie
A photo of a hand on a dark green bottle on a wooden floor
Intimacy vs Isolation (from the series Ego Entertainment)© Helen McGhie
A photo of a board game showing female cartoon figures on a red board
Industry vs Inferiority (from the series Ego Entertainment)© Helen McGhie
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