The Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrowsby artist Sophy Rickett, is inspired by the life and work of Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn, a little-known Welsh artist and astronomer active at the end of the 19th Century. Through photography and text, Rickett charts her journey towards making sense of the Dillwyn Llewelyn family sprawling and complex archive.
The story of Thereza was the starting point for the project. However, right from the start, the objectivity of Rickett’s ‘investigation’ is corrupted by an idiosyncratic approach, where findings from original research conducted at the British Library are combined with chance encounters, subjective associations and miscommunication. Rickett attempts to establish links between the Dillwyn Llewelyn’s remote world of Victorian privilege, their use of photography, and her own experience of life, work and photography, in 21stCentury Britain.
The project consists of 41 photographic works, combining images made at locations on the Gower Peninsula associated with Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn’s life, studio based works, and other found images. In the text, historically accurate anecdote is combined with a strong sense of the author’s own voice. Various histories of Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn, an early female photographic pioneer, emerge, as well as the structures through which she developed her practice.
In the book, Rickett develops her interest in archival practices and how the heritage industry functions, by staging certain entry points through which the past is made visible. Moving between photography and text, she explores the limits of these points, understanding the place where a trail goes cold – such as the denial of access, the withholding of permission – as being productive and generative in itself.