Neryng, a multi award winning photographer, latest series of works commands a hunting expression of the self, fantasy and theatricality. In a collaborative project with her daughter, Neryng’s Childhood Lost series ‘is an ongoing project exploring the nature of portraiture and memory.’ Neryng’s tondo compositions, which capture a cold saturated portrait of her youthful daughter in captivating and highly intricate costumes, isolates the idea of infantile story telling and fantasy to an exceptionally mature degree. An odd gravitas is established in these portraits despite being essentially a range of court characters from infantile nostalgia and myths. This serves to further twists and subvert the idea of childhood in conjunction to Neryng’s highly posed invocations to classical heroes and monumentalised figures. Taking her daughter as her muse, Neryng’s beautiful story enacts ideas of memories through photography.
“Childhood Lost is an ongoing project exploring the nature of portraiture and memory. As a single mother I have found myself exploring notions and representations of childhood. I see my daughter’s experiences of growing up in urban England conflicting with my own experiences of growing up in rural Poland. I must confess that my own childhood is not a source of many happy memories, perhaps the most resonant of which are the times I escaped to a world of fantasy played out in the forests surrounding my home village of Chelmsko. Watching my daughter grow up has in a sense held a mirror to my own memories of the past while experiencing her childhood dreams enacted through play, and story telling. I find myself in a strange place where I can experience my own memories as well as see my daughter’s childhood through my adult eyes.
It is these notions I am seeking to explore with the Childhood Lost project. Interweaving childhood nostalgia with the stories and myths of my Polish childhood and those that I share with my essentially British daughter. The project is using these ideas to produce a series of portraits that evoke characters that populate this world we know as childhood. A court of characters from myth and dreams. The images are aesthetically inspired by portraiture from the Golden Age of Dutch painting. By drawing on paintings as inspiration I am hoping to give a timeless feel to the final images. Also key to the project is also the painstaking styling and prop building, which I am using to evoke these different persona played out by my daughter.
I want to develop the series in to a substantial set of portraits of my daughter playing the characters of childhood, as well as producing more elaborate set pieces embracing a theatricality that would take the project to the next level. Subject to funding it would also be a dream of mine to be able to revisit the forests of my own childhood and produce work there.”