Hannah Laycock (born 1982) is a Scottish photographer specialising in documentary, art, and portrait photography. She openly deals with hers and her family’s health issues in her work. Here she tells us more about herself and her creative outlook.
I’ve spent the last 10 years living in London and Brighton working as a photographer and in Production & Education within the Arts & Heritage sector for institutes such as The Photographers’ Gallery as Oral Histories Coordinator for The World in London project; commissioned for the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Photoworks; Curatorial Assistant for Myth Manners & Memory: Photographers of The American South exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, and Brighton Photo Biennial; Workshop Facilitator and Leader for Snapshot and You’ve Been Framed projects working with local school groups. More recently I worked as Studio Manager for Newangle, a creative digital agency that design interactive games and video installations nationally and internationally.
Since returning to Scotland in April 2015, I was awarded the Six Foot Gallery’s Artist in Residence Program, Glasgow, in association with Street Level Photoworks and Menzies Hotels, which concluded with a solo exhibition, Awakenings; a series of works created during the one-month program in July.
Following my diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013, my practice has focused on relaying the associated feelings of uncertainty, fear, loss and liberation through my photography. Awakenings is an attempt towards dealing with notions of identity and the play on this in relation to my diagnosis, as well as the intention to raise awareness of MS.
My photography training developed when I enrolled on the BTEC National Diploma in Photography at City College Brighton and Hove in 2005, which then led me to complete a BA (Hons) Photography degree at the University of Brighton in 2010.
After graduating my creative practice lapsed between 2011 and 2014. I had focused the latter part of my degree on my father’s diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease with the projects Railing At The Enthrallment to The Failing of The Light part I & part II. Part II gained notoriety when I was shortlisted for the International Talent Support Photo 2011 competition in Trieste, Italy. The objective of the competition was to also create a new body of work in response to Open The Possibilities. My response to the brief can been seen here The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.
It was tough dealing with the ‘card’ my family had been dealt. My way of dealing with my father’s diagnosis was by creating work in relation to the experience. My creativity was sucked out of me due to the emotions that unravelled. It wasn’t until I was dealt with my own diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2013 that my creativity flourished and bounced back again.
A few months after being diagnosed I was introduced to George Pepper, Co-founder of Shiftms, a social network for people with Multiple Sclerosis. I became closely connected with the Shiftms team and in August 2014 I was invited to create a new body of work in response to the #GOOB (Good Out of Bad) commission, as part of their MS Energy initiative. With this, Perceiving Identity was created, which launched my photography into the public domain again with the #GOOB private view exhibition in London, February 2015.
I have always drawn inspiration from spending time in Scotland, in and around my parents home. Many of my projects have been shot in the North of Scotland, where I grew up. The combinations of internal/external landscapes of home/nature have been very influential in my work. More recently I have taken great interest in the writings of Oliver Sacks. His style of writing really hit home to me and has led me to dream up lots of ideas for continuing my photographic work in relation to my MS.
Next month I will be starting a new post in my hometown of Forres, with Digital Health and Care Institute who are in partnership with Glasgow School of Art. DHI innovate health and care solutions for Scotland, and more so, the harder to reach parts of Scotland, hence their location. I will be working closely with DHI in relation to my photography. The prospect of bringing my photography skills back to my hometown is a very exciting proposition for me, let alone the fact that the key objectives of DHI are health and care solutions, which is very in line with my own passions and the photographic work that I create.
My hope for the coming months is to have another exhibition in Scotland or UK, to push my work out there in order to raise further awareness about MS.
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