Alison Marchant


Relicta draws its inspiration from a multi-media artwork by the British artist, Alison Marchant, and retraces the extraordinary life story of Victorian servant, Hannah Cullwick. Secret lover and later secret wife to wealthy gentleman, Arthur Mumby, Cullwick used photography to present herself in a number of different guises assuming the mantle of those above and below her social class – Victorian lady, farm labourer or slave – in a wry and articulate comment on the complexities of the British class system and the hierarchies which informed its power. Relicta is richly illustrated with dozens of sepia plates and includes a series of fascinating texts by Alison Marchant who offers an historical analysis of representations of women and recounts her discovery of Cullwick, via photographs and diary extracts from the Mumby Archives, housed at Trinity College Cambridge. Writer and critic, Hugh Adams contributes a searching essay that considers Marchant’s artistic authorship in the light of these ‘found’ photographs and raises pertinent questions about deep-rooted gender stereotypes and their elucidation through conceptually-based photographic art.

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