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SYMPOSIUM ‘Panoply’ at Partisan Collective – Tuesday 3rd December 2019

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

The ‘Panoply’ Symposium took place at Partisan Collective in Manchester. It was a group exhibition made up of seven fellow M.A. students as part of our current module.

The range of work was diverse and interesting, ranging from Mikey Price’s acoustic work that provided an engaging insight into the rationale behind his acoustic compositions to Lexi Reeves’ fascinating and amusing video on the subject of Heirarchy. Mark Backhouse gave a thought provoking performance dressed as a mythical crow like creature whilst Lewis Patak treated us to an illuminated light room in which to engage with his painted and video pieces. Lisa Kilty’s paintings were both beautiful and hypnotic imbued with personal meaning and resonance. Ieva Sedova’s presentation on her ‘Bag People Art’ addressed issues surrounding displacement and was certainly poignant in the political times that we currently inhabit. Midge Ace symbiotically morphed into her painting through music and demonstrated her thought processes beautifully.


My exhibit within the Symposium involved the creation of a living room setting, an inviting area in which guests could sit quietly with a cup of tea and a biscuit to read the autobiographies and books that I had drawn upon for research. In addition to this my Autobiographical Photobook 1967 to 1974 and the stitched autobiographical piece titled ‘Thanks Mum and Dad’ was also exhibited.

The reading corner proved popular and I hope that it wasn’t just the refreshments that attracted people. Just as I had intended there was much laughter and stories of people’s own childhoods, and as I suspected it had become about other people’s lives and experiences as much as my own. One person of a similar age commented that he had the same photos of when he was a child. The cosy environment helped people to draw connections and it seemed to spark interesting analogies and tales.

‘Thanks Mum and Dad’ - Stitch on linen.

Victoria Merness: Self Portrait as a child – 60x60cm – stitch on linen
Victoria Merness: 'Thanks Mum & Dad' – 60x60cm – stitch on linen

At the time of the exhibition I was unsure as to whether the piece was finished. This was only because I had preconceived ideas about how it should be finished and can visualise it as a finished piece. On reflection it works better in the unfinished state. In this state it alludes to a long distant memory; It leaves some things unsaid, a sense of trying to reconciliate with the past but still having unfinished business. It portrays the fragility of the cycle of life in various states of limbo.

Sometimes it is good to let the audience put the pieces together.

Victoria Merness - Self Portrait – 16 x 16 cm, stitch on linen.
Victoria Merness: Self Portrait – 16 x 16 cm, stitch on linen.


The photobook was edited from a much wider autobiographical writing. On reflection I decided to make it into a photobook, this came about when I was scanning in photos that my Dad took from when I was very young.

Although my Dad didn’t recognise himself as a photographer the photos have a lovely sentimental feeling to them and they are photos taken by a man that clearly loves his family. When taking the photos my Dad did something that not many people do when taking photographs of children, he crouched down to their eye level. I believe that this action lent itself to the cosy and personal nature that they have. Most of the photos are black and white with only a few in colour. This could be because at the time it cost more to have colour photos developed and it probably depended on how much money was left in the budget that particular week when the film was bought.

The accompanying text within the photobook is from a personal standpoint relating to the social and political factors at the time. It also highlights popular culture in the 1970’s from a feminist perspective and depicts what it was like growing up as a girl in the seventies.


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