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RESIDE | Justin Carey

1 Nov, 2023 - 3 Feb, 2024

NAE’s RESIDE programme invites artists and creative groups to take up residency at NAE where they can collaborate and connect with our wider community to generate inspiring ideas, develop new initiatives and nurture their practice. RESIDE specifically supports the development of artists and creative communities with a socially engaged focus within their practice, working with any medium, from the Global Ethnic Majority.

Justin Carey is a Birmingham-based artist whose work is concerned with themes of memory and identity, the effects of historical and structural oppression and inequality, and the imperative to survive and thrive under these adverse conditions. His work has been exhibited at this year’s NAE Open and at FORMAT21 and has been featured on the Photo Ethics Podcast.

During Reside, Justin will be focusing on development of work that examines the experience of the disproportionate impact and morbidity of mental ill-health on Black and minority ethnic people in the UK. The work aims to encourage an open discussion about this issue, acknowledge systemic determinants that contribute to the burden of poor mental health in these communities and celebrate their resilience to overcome these challenges. Justin intends to use this opportunity to engage with local communities to create a space for imagining and shared learning during the residency.

Justin Carey will be in residency in the Mezzanine Gallery at NAE from 1st November to 22nd December 2023.

I grew up in the 1980s and 90s in Birmingham, UK. I think knowing this helps to explain my fascination with uninviting urban landscapes, although the Birmingham I live in now is very different to the place of my childhood. There is often beauty or interest to be found in the most unexpected or unfancied places and I suppose the same could be said of my hometown.

I make images and increasingly also write words, often to support, or in reaction to, the pictures that I make.

I first started making photographs at a time in my life where I was disconnected emotionally and geographically. In many ways, everything I’ve done creatively since has been a step on a journey to reconnect with my self and to understand my place in our ever-changing world.

I’m often drawn to explore issues that are close to me in some way, but that also have wider relevance. I’ve found that my best work usually starts with me, whether I care to admit that or not, and in beginning that journey to understand or put things in their right place in my own mind, the process of developing a piece of work will begin.

I think it’s also true that my work frequently arises from a grasping into the indefinable space between the unknown and what is known. For me this space seems to exist at the edges of my own memories or experience, and usually feels more tangible to me at night. Trying to piece together the fragments that I manage to hold on to long enough to represent them in the world is an ongoing challenge. The experience of encountering something that’s somehow familiar yet hard to place, that instantly stirs echoes of the past long-forgotten, is one I’m often resolving in my work.

I am repeatedly drawn to contrasts and over time some of these have become recurrent themes for me: Light and shadow at night is an obvious one of course, but also the contrasts between densely-populated spaces and individual solitude, and between urban utility and sentimentality.

I hope to make work that is honest and that, in being congruent with my inner world, reveals something of myself (to me at least). At the same time, I’m usually also trying to make work that could be about anyone.

I hope to make work that is accessible, and that bridges the gap between myself and the viewer emotionally and conceptually.

I hope to make work that makes you think and hopefully too, to feel something.”