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Helen McGhie

MA work


The work explores an analogy between the body of the Mother, the figure of the 'Monstrous Female' and the interior of a worn English house. Here, photographs of sun-drenched wallpaper and spider webs alongside the visceral surface of the ageing female body become subjects of fascination.  The physical security of home is called into question, where leaking ceilings and darkened corners suggest the embodiment of an un-named or unknowable fear. Imperfections in shadowy vein riddled skin present the maternal body as being at once haunted and as the site of nurture.

In Show RCA a cluster of differently scaled photographs present a labyrinth for the gaze, where ambiguous shadowy interiors are hung amongst images of the overwhelming female body.


  • Self-Portrait - Helen McGhie
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Photography, 2014

  • My practice investigates interiority and the photographic gaze through the still and moving image. It considers how identity might be represented in relation to the notion of the Gothic, where 'haunted spaces' are affected by a past that disrupts the present. Images of the female protagonist, skin, dust, abandoned domestic rooms and discarded objects, establish fictitious documentaries. Grouping of images suggest a sense of fearful enchantment where flashlight illuminates darkness, and darkened rooms promise security.

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) Photography, Video & Digital Imaging, University of Sunderland, 2009
  • Experience

  • Photography workshop leader, Richmond University, London 2013 - present; Guest speaker at The Museum Social event, Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston 2012; Art internship (exhibitions coordinator), Nexus Art Café, Manchester 2010-12; Photography workshop leader (for children and adults), Nexus Art Café, Manchester 2010-12
  • Exhibitions

  • Penumbra, APT Gallery, London 2014; A Sense of Things, RCA Hockney Gallery, London 2014 ; Splinter, Michael Hoppen Gallery, London 2013; Identity Crisis (solo exhibition), Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston 2012; Freedom from Selection, Blankspace, Manchester 2011; At Home, Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk 2010; Autres pour elles-mêmes, New Lacan School of Psychoanalysis, Geneva 2010 ; Abandon Normal Devices, Flag Market Square, Preston 2010; Helios VII: Contemporary Photography, The Biscuit Factory, Newcastle 2009; JAM: Contemporary Photographic Practice, Reg Vardy Gallery, Sunderland 2009
  • Awards

  • Shortlisted, Born to be Deutsche Bank Award for Fine Art, 2014; Shortlisted, European Photography Prize, 2013
  • Publications

  • Science & Fiction, Black Dog Publishing, 2014; Penumbra, Exhibition Catalogue, 2014; Uncertain States (17), 2014; Meet Helen McGhie, Hunger TV online, 2013; Artist in Conversation,, 2014; The Last Picture Show,, 2010 ; JAM Contemporary Photographic Practice, exhibition catalogue, 2009