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Press Release: Emily Andersen: Somewhere Else Entirely

27 Feb 2023

Ruth Fainlight sitting at her kitchen table.

Emily Andersen
Somewhere Else Entirely
25 March – 13 May 2023
Exhibition preview: Friday 24 March, 6-8 pm

“When I’m not writing poetry everything is okay, life’s fine, but it is not entire. Something is missing.” – Ruth Fainlight

This spring Bonington Gallery presents Somewhere Else Entirely a new three-screen video installation by the acclaimed photographer Emily Andersen featuring the American-born poet and writer Ruth Fainlight, who has become one of Britain’s most distinguished poets.

Ruth Fainlight was born in New York City in 1931 and moved to England when she was 15. During a lifetime dedicated to writing she has produced numerous collections of poetry, short stories, and translations. In 1959 she married the writer, Alan Sillitoe, and her many literary friendships included Sylvia Plath, Jane and Paul Bowles, and Robert Graves.

Andersen’s work is an intimate portrait of Fainlight, now aged 91, presenting fragments of the poet’s life. Taking inspiration from Renaissance triptychs and their depiction of different elements of the same subject across three panels, Somewhere Else Entirely captures Fainlight at her home in London, making notes, on her walks, and in the seaside town of Brighton where she spent her teenage years. Each image is carefully framed with a photographer’s eye for composition and detail – Fainlight walking along the corridor, her green cardigan against green foliage, the booklined walls – and intentionally moves at a gentle pace, sometimes almost appearing to be a series of still images.

In Somewhere Else Entirely Fainlight talks off-screen, revealing fascinating insights into her life, her creative process, and how she is ‘in the hands of the poem’. Her intensely visual poetry and fiction touch on themes of time, memory, and loss – and in her voiceover, she movingly recites her poem ‘Somewhere Else Entirely’ composed after the death of her husband.

Andersen has been a photographer for four decades. Her work includes interiors, architecture, and landscape but she is best known for her award-winning portraiture, capturing well-known faces including Nico, Peter Blake, and Helen Mirren. Somewhere Else Entirely is Andersen’s first completed video portrait and is inspired by her decade-long friendship with Fainlight. The exhibition also shares its title with Fainlight’s 2018 poetry collection which features Andersen’s photographs on the cover.

The 11 minute long, three-channel video, will be shown on a 10.5m wide curved screen within the gallery space. To accompany the exhibition there will be an in-conversation with Emily Andersen and Ruth Fainlight, and an evening of performative readings, using the work to reflect on the reciprocity of words and images, and the process of biography.

The launch of Somewhere Else Entirely in Nottingham is significant, as Fainlight’s husband Alan Sillitoe was famously from the city, and the couple met in a local bookshop. Andersen is Senior Lecturer in Critical and Visual Practice of Photography at Nottingham Trent University.

Emily Andersen
Somewhere Else Entirely (2023)
Funded by Bonington Gallery and Nottingham Trent University

Bonington Gallery is part of Curated & Created, NTU’s extra-curricular and public arts programme.