Jenny Lewis (UK, London)
Nicola and Jemima & Rebecca and Osiris
From the series One Day Young (2013-14)
I wanted to tell a story about the strength and resilience of women post-childbirth that I feel goes largely unacknowledged in today’s world. To create the image of the triumphant mother, sharing the experience I felt after the birth of my children, as a tool, to reassure women that childbirth is ok. Yes it’s painful, but it is a positive pain that has purpose and is just part of a rite of passage into motherhood. To make visible other emotions that are far more powerful: the joy, the overwhelming love and victory every new mother feels. In my mind this is the supportive message we should be passing on to future generations rather than paralysing them with fear.
Early on in the project I knew I wanted to concentrate on the first twenty-four hours, when a woman’s body is engulfed by hormones, to capture the unrelenting physicality of the moment, straight from the battlefield. As a portrait photographer I am aware of always trying to strip back to find the true self but in this moment the egoless true self of the women was plainly on show.
As the series developed over the past five years, the mantra of calm running through the images was impossible to ignore. I find the collection of images quite defiant and beautiful, challenging the expected vision of those first twenty-four hours, a pure celebration of what it means to be a mother.
Jenny Lewis is a photography artist as well as a renowned portrait photographer and as such she has worked with celebrities, actors and artists all over the world including John Goodman, the Beastie Boys and Peter Blake.