Review: Photographer Casey Orr’s latest series, Animality

By December 24, 2015

Art & Photography. Leeds.

AnimalGillCasey Orr presents a series of portraits of women with the animals they particularly associate or work with. The show includes a lovely shot of Mary at Farriby Farm who is practically having her face licked by her loving horse and clearly enjoying the intimate moment. Then there is Nicola with her owl Wingnut where both peer from the print with a piercing gaze, as if they are seeing exactly the same thing.

More controversially Gill is cloaked in fox furs in a defiant stance that belittles the unpleasant association for many of the fur trade, though it is unstated whether the items may in fact be imitations. Michelle poses in the woods with a ‘part wolf’ t-shirt, as if inhabiting the wild woodland space of her associated animal.

AnimalAnitaMore simply cute and touching is Jean’s embrace of her white Scottie Tilly. While Rose’s semi-naked portrait sees her with insect tattoos and jewellery. She also is adorned by a floral wreath in an intimate moment that feels totally natural and open. The daily chores of sheep farming are captured in the picture of Margaret at Spittle Ings Farm. But the most bizarre shot of the series sees a couple performing as Manta Rays in wetsuits up to their knees in water.

At first you hardly notice Rebecca’s snake BP around her neck and a sweet image is a child in a field holding her beloved ferret. It is clear that, as ever, Casey Orr has developed an intimacy and casual relationship with her subjects. What the series says about gender and animality is very much left up to the viewer, there is no sense of judgement or polemic.

Technically brilliant, they all really get beneath the façade of the characters, allowing them to visually represent their own life choices openly and candidly.

Runs 1- 31 December 2015 at The Arts Space, Leeds Central Library.