Sharon Boothroyd: ‘They all say please’

Sunday 26 June 2016

I saw Sharon Boothroyd’s exhibition ‘They all say please’ at the White Cloth Gallery in Leeds. These photographs are Sharon’s response to finding prayer cards in a church, and to her subsequent further research into prayer and what people pray for.

I  really liked the exhibition as a whole but I found myself drawn to the images that I felt told stories about human family relationships and the worries that family and love relationships often cause. I work with children and families and I see real-life struggles on a daily basis. This may have impacted on my understanding of Sharon’s images, but here are three of my favourite photographs from the exhibition and my interpretation of them: (permission was given to the taking of photographs in the gallery, and these images are my photographs of Boothroyd’s work).

Sharon Boothroyd-They all say please

Please do not let a romance grow between them:


Prior to reading the title of this image I saw in it, something about the mindlessness of excessive TV watching and computer gaming (I acknowledge that I say this because I like neither computer games nor a lot of TV myself); or something about the decline of the cinema, or the difficulty in engaging young people. However, the image captured my attention – I loved the colours and the lines and the way that simple shapes filled the whole image  and after reading the title, I gave it more thought and the photograph really came to life.

 The human element of this image became visible despite there being no people in it. I imagined an anxious mother, at home after her precious daughter had gone out for the evening on a cinema date with an unsuitable boy. I imagined her anxiety at the thought that they would form a lasting relationship and her fear that her girl would be hurt.

Please let her stop causing trouble


This image made me feel sad. Before reading the title, I saw this man as lonely, stuck in his house with nowhere to go, perhaps suffering the breakup of a relationship. After reading the title, I understood him as waiting up for his teenage daughter and worrying about what she was doing and whether she would come home, or whether the police would knock on the door.

Please keep us safe tonight


This image was my favourite and I created a number of stories around it. Initially, this was a young woman waiting for her date. Her expression told me that she had been waiting a long time, perhaps stood up. However, after reading the title, my imagination grew, and the image became more sinister.  I saw an abusive husband, disappeared to the loo after too much to drink, and his wife worried because she knew he could be violent in drink and she feared that she and the children would suffer when they get home.

There are hundreds of possibilities in this image and I would be very interested to know the artist’s intention, and other students’ interpretation of it.

This exhibition really showed me how individual photographs can tell intricate stories and how there are as many interpretations of an image as their are viewers of it.





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