Virginia Were

Room 52

Floral Dress

Named after my mother’s final room in a rest home, the series follows her death from Alzheimer’s Disease and arose from an intense desire to ‘reconnect’ with her through photography. I developed the idea of making portraits of friends and acquaintances wearing her clothing; I also decided to photograph some of the clothes and objects she left behind. I wanted to instil these inanimate objects with life so they could speak of the absent body, and the fragile nature of memory and identity. 

Room 52 asks how photography operates to ‘reanimate’ and physically embody the past, and if it can help us heal the losses we experience when the people and places that are dear to us are no longer here.


These photographs address the challenge of how to represent trauma and loss when, as a photographer, you are necessarily a latecomer to the scene, representing the moments after something disturbing has occurred, rather than the actual event itself.

Critic Ulrich Baer encourages us to drop the widely held belief that photography is a melancholic art: the future crypt of the depicted subject. Instead, we can use it to heal past trauma, whether personal, political or historical, and to propose more optimistic, informed and joyful futures. Room 52 is a love letter to my mother, and to photography itself as a reparative medium.


Red Coat
027 A0704 1

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