University of Northampton – PWAU Project Page

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PhotoWings + Ashoka U InSights Grant Project:
I Dream of Home - University of Northampton

Grantee: Sri-Kartini Leet
Title: Subject Leader, BA (Hons) Photographic Practice

I Dream of Home asks a multicultural group of participants to find a photograph in their own personal archives or to make a new image that conveys the essence of their relationship to a place of belonging or “home.” It explores ideas of “home” by asking a range of individuals (students and faculty from Drama, Media, Business, Journalism, Graphic design, Interactive Learning Technologists — also, cleaners, receptionists, and porters) to temporarily donate an image that they regard as symbolic of their idea of home. Each of the contributors are photographed in studio, eyes closed, in reverie. These photographs are exhibited in the University Gallery (and on walls and TV screens across 2 campuses) in tandem with moderating discussion groups in and outside of the classroom in order to engage the university community not directly involved in the project.


What is your idea for the InSights project?

The concept of ‘home’ has always occupied an indeterminate space: it can refer to a place that has been left behind, or a place to which one returns, or a new place that one, even temporarily, ‘takes up’ (e.g. a hotel room). This then means that ‘home’ may refer to a deeply familiar or foreign place, or it may simply be a passing point of reference. This lack of clarity in its meaning has also resulted in its being mythified as a site of utopian belonging.

This project will explore ideas of 'home'. I will ask a range of individuals (i will aim for 100 contributors, but may only achieve 60-80 in the given timeframe) to donate (temporarily) an image they regard as symbolic of their idea of 'home'. I will photograph each of these contributors in the studio, eyes closed, in reverie. 

What is the story that you will convey through the project? How do you hope people will think or act differently as a result of your project?

Personal history is often narrated within private settings, through oral means, and often through the sharing of photographs. This work will ask participants/contributors to reflect, and to find in their own personal archives or to make a new image, a photograph which conveys the essence of their relationship to a place of belonging.
The juxtaposition (in the form of diptychs) of a range of individuals (studio-based) with an image of their 'home' (which could be any place in the world; captions will provide the necessary context) will be an interesting experience for both the participant (being asked to contemplate and communicate a deeply personal experience through a photograph) and the audience (who may or may not recognize the subjects as individuals) who may engage with the work to narrate their own histories. 


Sri-Kartini Leet

Sri-Kartini Leet is Senior Lecturer in Photography and Subject Leader for BA (Hons) Photographic Practice at the University of Northampton.

Having studied photography at Goldsmiths College, University of London, she extended her knowledge of photographic practice and theory towards a PhD (2001) which examined the significance of the photograph in relation to a series of issues which surround its status as both an arbiter of 'the real' and as an icon of personal memory and identification. Her research covers practice and theory - particular areas of interest include photography and the city, the everyday, and photography within larger cultural contexts (with reference to documentary modes of practice, migration and identity).

Her recent publication on 20th Century photography (Ashgate, Lund Humphries 2011) explores the ambiguous 'meanings' of photography which are tied to its roles and functions within a variety of cultural contexts, covering a diverse range of image production and consumption. 

How are you going to create an event that being together people from different disciplines and backgrounds?

It is my intention to involve a broad range of individuals in this project (staff - including lecturers, porters, receptionists etc.; students; alumni). The University is a multi-racial and multi-cultural environment, and I will involve tutors in many other areas of the University to encourage broader participation from their students. These will include Media, Journalism, Business (whose student population is largely from China), English, Music, Acting and Drama etc.

The subject of 'home' may be one that is perhaps more significant to migrants like myself, but this work will involve a panoply of individuals, including 'locals'. The work will be exhibited in the University Gallery, and further site around the country can also be sourced. 

Who are your collaborators/connections?

I have assembled a production team consisting of current and past students. In terms of participants, I have thus far involved individuals from Drama, Media, Business, Journalism, Graphic Design, Interactive Learning Technologists, cleaners, receptionists and porters.

What are your ideas for keeping the dialogue and community going?

It is one of the University's ambitions to internationalize ourselves further - an effective mechanism for sharing feedback and discussing future developments will be through blogs, and more personally, through email.

What expertise and experience equips you to lead this project?

I have worked on projects which involved communities of individuals. For example, in 2000, I was commissioned to photograph a range of staff working in Rutherford College, University of Kent, for a site- specific installation. I had to communicate with and organise a series of shoots with academics, cooks, cleaners, porters etc...

I have also on many occasions managed my students in external projects to completion.