Martha Ackroyd Curtis' new photographic series explores the joy of queer love

Art comes in all shapes and sizes – so does love. 

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Martha Ackroyd Curtis

Artist Martha Ackroyd Curtis has chosen to represent the joys and intimacies of same-sex relationships and her experience with them through the medium of black and white photography in a brand new exhibition, Her… The Photographic Series.

A multi-disciplinary artist, Curtis wanted a timeless feel for this exhibition, so chose black and white photography because of the classicism it offers. “I wanted to show beauty, but in a dignified and respectful way,” she says. “I wanted the viewer to feel the communication between the photographer and subject.”

The subject in question is in fact Curtis’ partner, the series offering a spotlight on the importance of respect and dignity, particularly in today’s socio-political climate. “There’s not quite enough respectful and dignified examples on television, in books and in movies,” observes Curtis. “It is still in some ways not mainstream to show women who share lives. 

“As people in the LGBT community, we are more like straight people than we are not. We share the same human emotions, we want to feel safe, loved, and protected, we have ambitions, goals and dreams. We need to feel comfortable and able to be ourselves completely in day-to-day lives. I am talking not about just in Australia I am saying everywhere.” 

As all art is of course open to interpretation, Curtis feels that having an exhibition is as complex as the making of a collection of photographs, saying, “I can create art and have confidence to show it, get opinions from people I trust [who know and understand my artistic concept] then I wait and see: how the work is interpreted by those who see it.”

Curtis admits she hasn’t wanted to be provocative or hyper saturate the viewer with nudity. She’s kept the photographs about communication between the photographer and the subject, the staged delicacy, and the trust and, of cause, the love. “The fact that there is not much documentation of women who love women in popular or general culture; be it exhibitions, in magazines television shows, that it is a ‘normal’ relationship and it is human and not ‘novelty’.

“I am living quite an ordinary daily life like any other human being, the only thing is I happen to be with a woman. My straight friends, and family don’t blink an eyelid. So the word ‘lifestyle’, I feel, is rather archaic,” Curtis continues.

“We live in the 21st century and I am an artist, I do as artists have always done, I create work, I show it. You need to be able to stand on your own feet as an artist – solid, strong, and enjoy making art. I have had many exhibitions centred around many different themes, some conceptual others not so. I create shows that can be completely different from the previous show, because I like to do something fresh each time. I do not want to waste an idea. And I never want to repeat the same style.”

Ultimately, it’s Curtis’ hope that her exhibition inspires in other people a very simple human reaction. “That they feel they do not have to intellectualise the work, that they can see the warmth and humanity in it. I hope it inspires kindness in people. I hope that politicising human rights in any negative discourse is somehow soothed and that people see that love and acceptance is not going to harm you, it can only heal.”

Her… The Photographic Series is open at Grey Cells Green from Wednesday January 23 until Friday February 1 bar Monday and Tuesday as part of Midsumma Festival. Head to the festival website for more information.