Body Clock: Polly Penrose’s nude self-portraits portray an emotional journey

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Penrose’s posture is defensive in it, curled up into a foetal position, but while she looks vulnerable here, and she says she chooses these locations simply out of necessity and resourcefulness, there is something bold about her project. By taking over the physical space, she is literally putting herself in the picture, and by taking a traditional subject – the female nude – she is also taking control of that. Penrose is modest and unassuming, printing her images at just 10×12 inches for her exhibition, but she is also quietly subversive.

“Even though no one is ever going to see it, I’m putting my stamp on the place, creating a little bit of theatre that happens in a space where it shouldn’t,” she says. “People would have gone back the next day to the boardroom  and just used it and gone about their jobs, but that’s happened in the meantime – it has been a completely different environment for me, and I’ve seen it through my eyes and managed to fit myself into it somehow.” 

See more of Polly’s work here.

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Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy