Clare Hewitt is a photographer based in London. After completing a degree in law, she went on to study Commercial Photography at the Arts University College at Bournemouth. She found that both subjects relate to a complex interest in human beings, their habits, behaviors and interests, and through photography she could explore this in a more observational and creative way. Clare currently divides her time between commissioned and personal projects. In 2010 her work was selected for Fresh Faced & Wild Eyed at The Photographers’ Gallery, and has since been exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery as part of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, as well as being included in this year’s Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward emerging photographer selection. A portrait from this series, Eugenie, was recently selected for the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain exhibition and is currently being exhibited on JCDecaux digital billboards across the whole of the UK in major rail stations, shopping centers and bus stops from 1st – 30th September.
In her forties Eugenie unexpectedly suffered from a stroke, which left her severely visually impaired and stole large parts of her memory. She still isn’t sure of her age. I met her ten years later, during a time when I was experiencing my own darkness through personal grief and loss.
I was introduced to Eugenie through the Haringey Phoenix Group, a North London based charity for both blind and visually impaired people. I started to visit her once a week, and carried on for three and a half years, watching her continuously transition into a different way of the same life.
My camera allowed me to stare at her and immerse myself in her anxiety, her grief, sadness, relentless frustration, her determination, strength, fragility and her joy, without her looking back at me. I invited the reality of human imperfection to seep through my lens, revealing as much as I could about Eugenie and myself with honesty, and I let go of trying to fill the void between expectation and reality.
Eugenie became a beautiful subject, my friend, and a vessel, who allowed me to produce a series of emotional observations of her and of myself without a sense of narrative or linearity. Rather, I spent my time immersed in repetition, drifting in circles, and trying to move on, as I watched her do the same. The work is a truth, whether it is Eugenie’s, mine, or a blur of both.
To view more of Clare’s work, please visit her website.