How long have you been a photographer?
I wouldn’t call myself a photographer if I’m honest. I would say I’m a visual artist and the reason for that is that my practice is more concerned with the concept than anything. I don’t have the gift of being about to photograph an array of subject matter with great precision etc so I wouldn’t want to claim I can haha. I would say my practice really began 6 year ago.
Can you tell us a little about your practice?
I am a visual artist, performer/actor and maker. My art is concerned with mental health and wellbeing, activism, the diaspora and the archive. I use both lens-based practices and performance with an aim to culminate a cathartic experience for both myself and the viewer. I use the technique of re-imagination to engage with communities of interest and the self as a central focus within the image.
What inspires your work?
The work always starts with me usually. Being honest with how my mental health is impacting my day to day life. What is making me angry right now? What can I not stop thinking about? How am I feeling about my life right now and how can photography aid in self-reflection and enable public healing?
Where is your favourite place or favourite thing to photograph?
Where can we see your work?
I don’t want to mention the “C” word as a bunch of things have been cancelled but most bits are on my website www.heatheragyepong.com
Who is your favourite female photographer and why?
Too many but right now I’m loving the work of Lina Iris Viktor and Zanele Muholi. Their work feels like home to me; honest, intimate and nuanced and powerful reflection of the black experience. Using their own self-portraits to reflect our collective selves in the work; that’s magic!
Any words of advice for female photographers starting out?
With such a huge amount of time on our hands it’s really important to check in with yourself and really pay attention to your mental health. This pandemic will bring up a lot of stuff for us both triggering and uncomfortable and sometimes staying busy is burying what we really need to address. Researching or preparing for new projects is great but the most important thing I think is to make sure it’s coming from a place of desire and joy and not fear. Joining online collectives/network can be a great way of getting support, inspiration and advice too.
What’s next for you?
I have a new body of work which I’m excited to debut (eventually). The project is called Wish You Were Here. The project focuses on the work of Aida Overton Walker, the celebrated African American vaudeville performer who challenged the rigid and problematic narratives of black performers. The work re-imagines 19th century post cards of black performers which were often grotesque and offensive with the allure of spectacle where the performers lacked agency. Wish you were here using the figure of Overton Walker to re-imagine these postcards as one not of oppression but of self-care with a mandate for people of Afro-Caribbean descent to take up space. The project was commissioned by The Hyman Collection.
To learn more about the Women in Photography Group click here.