‘The Fitting’ – Nicky Bird

14 March 1998 — 26 April 1998

Nicky Bird’s work is a form of retrieval with the starting point being an original or found photograph, whether in a book, a museum collection or a family snap. She is interested in how documentary photography, whether by accident or design, catches and preserves the peripheral. Though retrieving those unassumed part of the found photograph, they become a source of meaning rather than a prop for the main point of the photograph.

The Fitting is based on a little known photograph of Marilyn Monroe by the photojournalist Ed Feingersh and features in a rare book of his work, now out of print. In this photograph, a peripheral group of unidentified women from behind- the-scene watch Monroe being fitted up for a corset. This took place within fitting room in Brooks Costume, a specialist department store in New York. Monroe and Feingersh are long dead. Brooks Costume no longer exists. The unidentified women appeared untraceable. The photograph is what remains of site.

Bird has the site of the Feingersh photograph through reconstruction using sets, props and actors. This process has lead to two outcomes, `The Fitting` and `Red Herrings`; both show here at Castlefield Gallery. The installation `The Fitting` works with the notion of a fitting room, but in the context of the gallery this room becomes fictional and disorientating. Red Herrings` is a proposal for an artist’s book; it is the progress of Bird’s photographic practice and is concerned with re-enactment, retrieval and detection.

Nicky Bird lives and works in Leeds where she is currently completing a practice based PhD at University. She lectures in Fine Art, Photography and Visual Culture at the University of Leeds, Northumbria and Derby and exhibited widely, most recently at Leeds City Art Gallery, Bristol.