The photographer’s exhibition Anthesis brings together potent images from her recent archive
“The literal meaning of the word ‘anthesis’ is the action or period of opening of a flower. For me, it’s a process, it’s showing how my work has evolved; how I have evolved my journey as a photographer,” Nadine Ijewere tells Dazed, reflecting on her first UK solo exhibition Anthesis at the Huxley-Parlour Gallery, which spans over four years of her work.
Known for her personal and disruptive approach to fashion photography, the exhibition comprises 13 large-scale colour photographs, taken between 2019 and 2023. “I think [anthesis] correlates to the images in the exhibition, where I have been and where I am now. As you look through the exhibit I hope that you can see this journey,” Ijewere explains.
Having grown up in south-east London, the exhibition marks a full circle moment for the photographer. “It feels exciting to be able to show as a solo artist in my hometown,” she says. “I have been part of many group exhibitions with other amazing artists, but of course it hits differently when it’s entirely yours. I also feel it’s more of a process as you reflect on your work and how it all sits together.”
2019 marked a momentous moment in Ijewere’s career as she became the first woman of colour to photograph a cover for British Vogue. “Obviously shooting covers for incredible publications such as Vogue has been memorable but it’s the experience in that moment which also is important for me,” says Ijewere. Beginning with her iconic Vogue shoot, Anthesis traces her trajectory as she continues to develop and explicate the themes and issues raised by the prestigious cover story.
Ijewere continues to be committed to change and making images that sit at the intersection of traditional fashion imagery, street photography and studio portraiture, while drawing in her own biographically-inflected practice, creating a legacy visual storytelling that represents the experiences of people of colour, images she didn’t come across very often growing up.
Her work is characterised by how it borrows from and breaks with the photographic canon. Ijewere’s work responds to the historically narrow representation of beauty in Western popular culture, and seeks to create a more expansive and multifaceted definition. Through her photographs, Ijewere provides an alternative model of visibility, all while maintaining joy in her use of colour as well as an experimental treatment of composition. “I hope that my photographs can resonate within fashion and beauty and allow people to feel seen,” says Ijewere. As she continues to forge her own path in photography she leaves the door open for future generations.
Anthesis is showing at the Huxley-Parlour gallery until 25 November 2023.